Coach Gleich writes...
While the new Jefferson City race caused several teams to bow out of our Invitational this year, that did not change Priory’s strategy to “race hard and finish strong.” Cool, overcast skies greeted the JV runners in their early race. With Anthony O’Sullivan and Greg Rolwes running with the Varsity squad due to missing members, and Andrew Latuda taking the SAT, freshmen and sophomores led the team off the line at the gun. Strong, but under control, the “red and blue sea” bided their time up the first hill and across the sports fields. Even at the 800 only two Priory runners—Joseph Pollnow and Jacob Conard—were in the top eight. The comfort with which our runners were running gave the coaches confidence that a move was about to be made. Between the 1200 and the 2400 on our course it is hard to follow the progress of our runners. By the time they emerged at the stop sign, Joseph had taken control of the race and Jacob was duking it out with two Duchesne runners and a JBS runner. Behind these five was a solid block of Priory athletes. Sophomores Koch, Frei and Steger were bunched with junior Chris Hedlesky and freshman John Krewet. Behind them was a huge squad of CBC runners who were pressing them as they headed down the church hill.
They were not the only Priory guys pushing the pace, though, as red and blue filled half of the top 35 spots. Andrew Evans, Liam Mardis, Jack Douthitt, Joe Mathis, Thomas Weiss, James O’Halloran, Will Koster and Logan Palliser were bunched within 30 seconds of each other, encouraging each other to carry the pace. Just like being in the woods, once you hit the “hill of death” on Mason Road the athletes are out of sight and remain hidden until they pop out of the snaky path at the Junior School. By that time Joseph had a 10 second lead on the field and Jacob was dueling with a Duchesne runner for second. Behind them the rest of our top seven had pushed into the top twelve spots. Brian Koch’s long strides carried our pack across the practice football field and past the eco trail. With Coach Muench leading the race in his “pace” car, Joseph and Jacob surged past the tennis courts out into the open in spots one and two. Though they were followed about 15 seconds back by the Duchesne and Burroughs runners, our pack had closed out the field by occupying five of the next seven places. It was a treat to see two freshmen leading the way, with both making it on the “Legends List” by running 19:25 (Joseph in first and a new PR) and 19:48 (Jacob in second). Priory took nine of the 20 medals and seven of the top twelve places. Those also medalling were: Brian Koch (6th 20:25), Robbie Frei (8th 20:33, PR), Chris Hedlesky (9th 20:38), Will Steger (11th 20:43), John Krewet (12th 20:44, PR), Dominic Kolthoff (15th 21:04, PR), and Andrew Evans (19th 21:29, PR). In all, Priory scored 24 points to easily outdistance CBC and Duchesne and also earned 23 new PR’s. Well done, Junior Varsity! You clearly ‘protected this house’ and ‘finished strong’.
Not to be outdone by the JV, our Varsity, consisting mostly of seniors, knew that this was their last chance to earn “Legend” status and move up on the All Time list. With Drew and Alex taking the SAT, we decided to go with seven rather than eight runners on the Varsity. The wind had picked up by race time and the temperature had risen to a mighty 53 degrees when the gun exploded. Jake went out hard, with CBC’s top runner on his heels and Thomas right behind. Following them, other Principia and CBC runners raced up the hill and across the sand capped soccer field. Not worried about the early pace, Luke, George and Kyle hung back just a little, while Anthony and Greg were about five seconds behind them. All seven of our runners were in the top fifteen as they hit the 1200-meter mark.
We knew that the cool weather and overcast conditions would bring out the beast in our runners, and the coaches were not surprised when Jake, Thomas and CBC’s #1 runner hit the 2400-meter mark in just over 8:15. Good news for us was that Luke had pushed his way into fifth place and George and Kyle had both moved into the top eight as they passed the Abbey Church. At this point the CBC runner decided to move on Jake, passing him as they sped down the hill. That was a bad decision on his part though, as Thomas and Jake dissected him on Mason Hill. By the time they ran past the maintenance shed, Jake was #1, Thomas was #2 and Luke was #4. George and Kyle were two in back of them. Now we had our top five in the top eight places. Anthony and Greg were nearly neck and neck as they shot down and around onto the practice football field. Thomas used this part of our course to his advantage as he hung on to Jake and opened up the gap between 2 and 3 to almost 10 seconds.
The trek up from the track makes our course much harder than most of those we race. That is good for the home team, since we can capitalize on this challenge. Doing so, Priory owned 5 of the top 6 spots by the time the runners passed the baseball diamond. Luke bridged our two packs and Anthony was closing in on Principia’s second runner. The race around the pond found our athletes with a home field advantage as the crowd cheered them on. Jake and Thomas kicked it home, finishing a clear 1 and 2 in 17:36 and 17:43. Those times placed them in the top ten All-time (since 1992) of our Legends list. They were followed quickly by Luke (4th in 18:13, top 20 All-time), George (5th in 18:37), and Kyle (6th in 18:42) both top 40 All-time. Not to be outdone, Anthony rocketed to the finish, passing Prin’s #2, taking 8th in 18:57. Greg made it a clean sweep in 11th with 19:13. Priory took 5 of the top 6 places and 7 of the top 11. We earned a near perfect score of 18 points, putting the hurt on the rest of the field. Only the class of 04 (eventual state champions) posted a composite effort that could equal what our Priory runners had achieved this day. Our “Finish Strong” motto is exactly what they did! Congratulations and special thanks to all the parents and teachers who made this day possible. You were marvelous!