Coach Gleich writes...
No matter when we run this race, you can always count on it being hot and humid. Thursday, Sept. 3, was no different as the heat index hovered around 98 degrees at the start of the race. With more than 300 athletes entering the boy’s race, and Varsity and JV runners racing together again this year, this competition brings out the best in those athletes who are well conditioned for the heat and the humidity.
Priory drew the last lane in the field, so our overflow crowd stretched almost to the boundary fence. Coach Rebello had delivered a stern warning to the runners NOT to be first up the hill, since that takes a lot out of you in this course, which is laced with many rolling hills. What seems fast at the start slows down considerably and stretches out as the runners race up a 500 meter gradual hill to the mile mark.
Jake and Thomas got out well, racing on the edge of the pack, followed by Anthony, Luke, Kyle and Alex (who had just returned from a calf strain). Andrew Latuda, James Coyle and Gregg Rolwes formed a third pack about 8 seconds back.
Even though the conditions were challenging, Aaron Dugan from Hillsboro set a torrid pace, opening up a 100 meter gap by the time he hit the mile in just over 5:05. Jake and Thomas came through just under 5:30 in the top fifteen, while our next two packs were about 30 seconds back, racing in the early forties. It was clear that Festus was intent on ‘packing’ to win the race as their top seven runners were all in the top twenty by the mile. This strategy pushes each athlete to take his turn setting the pace and it provides strength in numbers. The Priory JV runners also adopted this strategy as Tripp Miller, Liam Mardis, Chris Hedlesky, Jacob Conard, Will Steger, Robbie Frie, Brian Koch, Andrew Evans and Joe Mathis packed together just at 6:35 for their mile. The effort by the other scores of Priory runners did not go unrecognized as several sophomores and freshmen were racing well.
It was a challenge to sort out the team standings, except for Festus, since so many runners were in packs and since there were so many athletes in the field. By the 2500 meter mark it looked like Priory was fifth or sixth, with Herculaneum, Parkway Central and Whitfield right in front of us. Running 1 and 2, Hillsboro had a distinction advantage on the other teams. By the 3500 meter mark Priory’s top seven had made a move. Anthony O’Sullivan had led Alex and Kyle to the 2 mile mark, while Luke began to stretch things out with his long strides after cresting ManMaker hill. Jake and Thomas still led our pack, positioning themselves in the top 15 places, and many JV athletes, especially our sophomores, began to pass runners from other teams. Circling Cannon Gate and loping down the long hill, our athletes responded to the urgings of coaches, racing around the final telephone poll and legging it up the last 300 meters across the line.
While there was clearly confusion over some of the times and places at the finish, which took a long time to sort out, Priory had moved into contention with the other top teams. An hour after the finish of the race we found out that we had finished third of twenty teams: 1. Festus (28), 2. Hillsboro (73), 3. Priory (119), 4. Herculaneum (130), 5. Whitfield (180) and 6. Parkway Central (192) were the top six teams. Our very strong finish pushed us past several very competitive squads. Our top nine runners (according to the posted times) were: Jake (9) 18:18, Thomas (14) 18: 37, Luke (25) 19:15, Kyle (39) 19:42, Anthony (41) 19: 19:49, Alex (43) 19:55, Andrew (56) 20:12, James (62) 20:23 and Gregg (65) 20:27. Another 15 of our runners bested 24 minutes on a sultry day, with many freshmen and sophomores running their best times on this challenging course.
It is off to Forest Park for the biggest race of the year this coming Saturday. The JV races at 9:30 and the varsity races at 12:20. The Park will be packed for the 15 races that start a 7:30 a.m. and finish around 3:15 p.m.