Coach Gleich writes...
This was a new course for Priory in the 2015 season so we had elected to tour it on Wednesday evening, even though the course was 75 miles from school. Touring a course always gives you an advantage when you race it, and we were quite fortunately to have the Varsity Potosi coach meet us at the park that evening. She explained the rough points on the course and also noted the difficult start and finish. Our athletes were grateful for her advice as they toured, and they elected to repeat the finishing 500 meters of the course just to make certain they “had it down.”
Arriving early to garner a prime campsite, Priory learned that they had luckily been assigned lane #2. The start of the course is uphill with several dips in the middle lanes. To top it off, you have to make a 90 degree turn around a pine tree just 125 meters up the hill. This pinches all the runners into a narrow gap. As the gun went off our strategy to stay to the right went out the window, when two runners fell down right in front of Jake. All of our other runners had to slow to make the turn and we found ourselves well into the middle of the pack only 45 seconds into the race. Perhaps that turned out to be a good thing, in retrospect, as our runners were determined to make up that lost time evenly throughout the first half of the race. By the time they hit the mile mark in this looping course, Jake was in the top 20 and Thomas and Luke were in the top 30. George and Drew ran side by side up the long hill near 45th place with Alex just 8 seconds back.
Working the uphill pays off coming down and around the next stretch, as Thomas and Luke hit the second hill running neck and neck in the 19th and 20th spots. Jake had nudged his way into the top 15, while Alex had caught George and Drew to create a solid pack. We had lost sight of Kyle Flores, only to find that he had pulled a hamstring and was limping along the course. Once the runners rounded the pond and headed back to the baseball field, you could feel the excitement of the fast pace. We had committed to working hard back up the start hill, since we knew that this course had the fastest finish of any course we had run, with about 250 meters of downhill and flat into the chute.
By the time the runners passed the maintenance shed for the last time, they were in full sprint mode. Thomas had closed the gap on Jake and Alex had surged past George and Drew as they rounded the turn. Sprinting into the home stretch, Thomas and Alex both caught Farmington runners and Drew nipped a Herky runner. The tale of the tape gave us five runners under 18:00 for the first time in almost a decade. George just missed 18 by 3 seconds. Here was the tally: Jake (14th) in 17:11, Thomas (17th) in 17:21 (PR), Luke (25th) in 17:31 (PR), Alex (34th) in 17:55 (PR), Drew (40th) in 17:59 (PR) and George (42nd) in 18:03 (PR). While Jeff City, St. Gen and Hillsboro had a lock on 1, 2, and 3, it was a dogfight for 4, 5 and 6 with only 4 points separating three teams. Farmington was 4th with 126 pts, Herculaneum was 5th with 128 pts and Priory took 6th with 130 points. We also only had 52 seconds separating our entire pack. What a great effort!
Having learned from the varsity race, the JV runners decided to stay wide and get out fast. Anthony O’Sullivan and Greg Rolwes both went out hard, avoiding the congestion in the center. Andrew Latuda followed right behind them and we had three runners in the top fifteen by the 400 meter mark. You don’t win or lose the race in the first quarter mile, so Priory quickly settled in racing with Jeff City, Herky, Hillsboro, Fatima and Farmington. By the time our runners hit the mile maker, Anthony was 5th, Greg was 10th and Andrew was 14th.
In the second mile our freshmen—Joseph Pollnow and Jacob Conard—hit the gas and closed the gap with our top pack. By the time they rounded the field the second time it was a thing of beauty to see four Priory runners--Andrew, Anthony, Joseph and Greg-- running together like the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse up the long hill. It was red and blue from side to side, with Jacob right behind them and Brian Koch closing fast. Using his long stride Brian continued to gain on the foursome, while Robbie Frei matched Brian’s stride to pass several runners heading around the pond.
Racing across the baseball field it looked like a thread of Priory runners as our top six ran a tight pack. For a few moments Joseph Pollnow took over our lead, but then Anthony and Andrew surged by him. It was the race among our own runners that drove them up the final hill, with an 8 second gap between Anthony and Greg. Only Jeff City was able to compete with Priory as our runners passed the big pine tree and headed down to the finish. Eager to stay with our top guys, Brian continued to surprise the coaches with his strong running late in the race and Jacob was tucked in right in front of him. A mighty sprint by Anthony down the home stretch parallel to the creek pulled our top four across the line under 19 minutes. Jacob and Brian hit the tape just after the timer rolled over 19.
Seven new PR’s brought joyful smiles to their faces as our top six also all finished in medal territory in the top 15 places. To be precise: Anthony was 8th in 18:47, Joseph was 9th in 18:50, Andrew was 10th in 18:51, Greg was 12th in 18:56, Jacob was 14th in 19:01 and Brian was 15th in 19:04. Robbie surged the final 100 meters to cross in 36th place with 19:51. Just 17 seconds separated our 1 and 6 runners; a remarkable achievement in a race with more than 140 entrants. Only Jeff City was able to crack the Priory pack as they placed 3 runners in the top four places. With 29 pts for Jeff City and 48 pts for Priory, Hillsboro (at 57 pts) was for nosed out of trophy territory. What a great day for the Priory JV and what remarkable times!!