2003 Cross Country
Bluffton, OH - In previous years Coach Derek Stanley has found himself in a comfortable position this time of year. His women's and men's cross country teams have been building which has allowed him to run well when it came to inter-team competitions. However, this year's recruiting went a little better than years past and it showed today, October 29 in the Coach's Challenge 2003.
It was a fair afternoon with partly cloudy skies and a temperature hovering around 50 degrees. The only real factor was the slight wind out to the west at 10-15 mph. With a brand new track that was resurfaced this past summer, times were sure to be fast.
"To be honest I really wasn't ready to run, .until Pat (Cooley) came into my office and asked me if I was ready to lose, that's when my mind set became clear," said coach Stanley before the race. Just minutes before the race the comments were still flowing through the air as Justin Crites said, "don't waste all your energy in the warm-up coach, you're gonna need it today!" It was clear that Johnny Ichrist was setting himself up for failure saying, "I'm more worried about Saturday," before the race started.
As the men stepped up to the line for the start of the race, this reporter could not help but notice the level of talent that was on the line. Standing there was Dan Rosebrock, last year's champion and current men's coach's challenge record holder (4:43) and Andy Schiefer, the champion from two year's ago (4:46). Add that to the pool of talented freshman and much improved returners that were on the line, I knew this one was going to be a dogfight.
Honorary starter Rachael Szydlowski (current women's coach's challenge record holder, 5:43.7) fired the gun to start the 1600 meter race, a race where the leaders came through at 63 seconds for 400 meters. Jordon Bruner took the reigns to lead through lap two but eventually handed it over to Dan Rosebrock somewhere during lap three. Rosebrock never relinquished the lead and finished first in a new record time of 4:35.0. The dogfight was clearly between 2nd and 5th place. As Bruner faded in the last 200 meters of the race, Ichrist and Schiefer were working hard to hold off a pesky coach Stanley who would not go away. Coming off the last turn, Ichrist changed gears and charged into 2nd place, finishing in a time of 4:37.0, a personal record for him. Schiefer hung on to Ichrist enough to get past Bruner to finish 3rd in a 4:39.0 and Bruner finished just behind in 4:39.5. An exerted coach Stanley, unable to hang with the pack, came across the white stripe in 5th place running a 4:41.0. Other competitors for the men's team were Dave Espinoza (6th, 4:56.0), Justin Crites (7th, 5:05.0), Patrick Cooley (8th, 5:13.0), Kitt Lashley (9th, 5:15.0), and Chris Wojciechowski (5:18.0).
There was a new champion to be crowned in the women's race as no previous winners stepped up to the line (Szydlowski 02', Jen Oyer 01'). Lauren Borga used a strategy similar to Szydlowski's race a year ago. Borga took it out from the start and never looked back. During the first 600 meters, a pack of about 5 women looked to have a shot at the coach. As the race pushed in to the final two laps it became clear that there were two women competing for the t-shirt. Borga continued to pull away from the other runners and finished in 1st with a 5:52.1. Just edging out the converted time needed to beat coach in 2nd was Lauren Bailey who ran a 5:54.2. The race was spread out from 3rd to 10th as Jen Creamer earned a 3rd place finish with a 6:07.7, Stephanie Welch was next with a 6:15.7, and Carrie Hudecek was 5th in a 6:20.6. Also running for the women were Rachel Noirot (6th, 6:21.6), Lindsay Bryant (7th, 6:29.8), Laurie Sanford (6:37.4), Meggan Hartzog (9th, 6:43.0) a personal record for her, and Alicia Stanko (10th, 6:53.1).
"You know, this event gets more challenging every year and some things happen that I just cannot understand," said coach Stanley. "For instance, after Johnny (Ichrist) PR'd in the race, its probably the quietest he had ever been!"
Dave Espinoza was heard saying, "see, that is why I didn't talk trash, because I knew I was going to lose." A while after the race, this reporter witnessed Bailey saying, "you talked all the smack and you didn't back it up, what's up now coach, what's up now?" When asked about the challenge that coach Stanley presented, Dan Rosebrock just shook his head and replied, "pathetic." Bruner stated, "boy I sucked today, it's a good thing coach Stanley did too!"
Other runners could not be reached for comment but it was reported the Creamer was in the women's restroom staring at her self in the mirror and punching the wall in frustration. Running away for her warm down, Borga was heard saying, "it doesn't matter what race it is, I just hate people cheering for me." Lashley was quoted as saying, "like I really care about this." Hudecek simply stated, "stinking hips!" Cooley and Wojo. were seen walking out of the stadium, arms around each other and crying. On their way out, they said hello to Sanford who was enjoying a post race cigarette in the smoker's box.
*outside reader's: please be aware that some events described above are fiction. Only the running part is to be taken seriously.