Coach Gleich writes:
Protecting Our House: The Priory Invitational
Continuing the trend of variable weather for meets, a soggy course greeted the athletes on a very brisk morning. Over two inches of rain on Thursday had wiped out most of the fine work that the maintenance staff had done on the course to get it in shape the past two weeks. That left them to scramble all day Friday to build mulch paths across the water hazards and re-line essential parts of the course. They were even patching the course between the early races. The brisk wind, combined with the 41 degree temperature, provided a 33 degree wind chill on bare skin.
Many schools had brought only their JV squads, since their varsity teams were running on the State course in the Capital City Challenge. Still more than half of the 176 runners at the line wore the red and blue as the gun sounded. CBC took early control of the race pushing up the first hill and around the soccer field. By the 1200-meter mark CBC runners were one and two with Try Erbs in hot pursuit, matched stride for stride by a Westminster runner. Chris Hedlesky, Greg Rolwes and James Coyle were sprinkled among the top 15 runners, but many of the better JV runners packed between 15th and 30th spots. Disappearing into the woods for next 1200 meters runners change positions regularly. Emerging near the stop sign Trey had caught the #2 CBC runner and James Coyle and Andrew Latuda had closed the gap on CBC’s #3 and #4 runners. A gap between our fourth and fifth runners caused CBC to have a slight team edge at the halfway point. The hill of death became a Priory advantage as our runners ran the edges of the course to avoid the mud and steadily gained places. By the time they hit the maintenance shed James Coyle had broken into the top seven, while Andrew Evans and Andrew Latuda were running side by side as they passed a CBC and then a Westminster runner. So, it was Priory and CBC each having four runners in the top ten places. Freshmen Greg Rolwes, Anthony O’Sullivan and Peter George all looked solid, as they were pushed by upperclassmen Ian Steiner and Andrew Abad.
It wasn’t until Trey Erbs emerged from the tennis courts, that you could see that he meant to win the race. Stride for stride he pounded the course, eventually pulling away from the two top CBC runners just before crossing the junior school path. Rounding the last turn he hit the retro rockets and shot across the finish line in 19:42 to win. James Coyle raced all the way to the line to nip CBC’s third runner by 0.4 seconds, finishing fifth in 20:29. Right behind him came our 3rd and 4th runners, Andrew Evans and Andrew Latuda in the 7th and 8th spots with times of 20:30 and 20:39. Westminster’s fourth man was right behind them in 20:44. That meant it was up to the fifth man to break the tie. Greg Rolwes and Ian Steiner did it for us, finishing 11th and 12th in 20:54 and 21:01. Other Priory medalists were: Anthony O’Sullivan 15th (21:12), Andrew Abad 16th (21:14), Chris Hedlesky 18th (21:18), Peter George 19th (21:23) and Nolan Kemna 20th (21:37). 11 medalists and a strong last mile of the race gave Priory the narrow three point victory over CBC (32 to 35). Westminster finished a distant third. Way to go, JV!
By the time the varsity ran at 11 am it was a balmy 50 degrees with blue sky and a light breeze. The course had been softened by all of the traffic, to say nothing of the tracks left by Mr. Muench’s four-wheeler. The field was a small one with only five teams on the starting line, but that did not stop St. Dominic and Priory fighting it out coming up the first hill. St. Dominic’s first runner led the pack with Jake Drysdale and George O’Sullivan in hot pursuit. With Tommie Lowell out for a college visit, William Whaley and Luke Lissner had to bridge the gap. By the halfway point we had four runners in the top ten, but our fifth man had yet to emerge. Kyle Flores, Alex Lowell and Andy Swyers were all running in a pack around 15th with Parker not far behind. For a while, George surged past Jake, pushing the top St. Dominic runner. Heading down to the baseball field, Luke Lissner began to separate himself from William, racing past a Lutheran South runner. Alex Lowell kicked it into high gear the final mile, breaking away from Andy Swyers and Kyle Flores, and closing in on William. Racing past the backstop on the home stretch, the crowd could see that Priory had a lock on the race and the team championship. Jake had pulled away from George by about 15 seconds to take charge of the race, and Alex Lowell was matching William stride for stride. At the white line our top five were all in the top seven spots, and all eight of the varsity guys earned medals finishing in the top 20 spots. The top five Priory times were: Jake Drysdale first in 18:31, George O’Sullivan second in 18:49, Luke Lissner fifth in 19:11, William Whaley sixth in 19:23 and Alex Lowell seventh in 19:25. Priory dominated with a low team score of 21 points to 56 for St. Dominic. It was a fine team effort as only 53 seconds separated our top five athletes.