The Road to Scioto Downs
Same Course...Same Result
The 1985 Toledo City League CC Championship was ours!!! It was a short-lived celebration because we were back at it on Monday preparing to race at Ottawa Park again the upcoming Saturday for the District Championship. This also began the two weeks of qualifying races with the District and Regional Championships on successive Saturdays. In order to move on each week, teams had to place in the top 4 of the team race or a runner could individually qualify by placing in the top 16 individually.
This is not like the district that we see today in Northwest, Ohio, with multiple smaller districts, which allows for smaller races and more teams to make it to Regional. In 1985 it was ONE district with 20+ teams and only 4 would move on from the entire area.
We were fairly confident that we would not have any issues at the District meet because we had not lost to any team in the Northwest Ohio area for the entire regular season. What even gave us more confidence was that we would be racing at Ottawa Park for the second consecutive week in a row because the District meet was held at Ottawa Park back then. I had run a 17:44 at the City League meet and was our 6th man on that day, so I was hoping to improve upon both at the District race.
I kept a low profile all week and put the work in to be ready for Saturday and the race. This race was a bit different on Saturday, October 19th, 1985, because the football team would not be there to cheer the team on during the race. We did get a break from the rain, and it was a gorgeous fall day. I took advantage of the beautiful weather to get out quicker and tried to stay with our top 5 for as much of the race as possible. The race went by fast and I remember tearing down the hill to the finish line because I knew that I was our 4th man and wanted to make it count.
Once I crossed the line, I felt I had a good race because I was 4th man and hit my 3rd fastest time of the year, 17:31. The real litmus test of how a runner finishes in a CC race is how they place in the field. CC courses vary so much that times are hard to judge unless you run the same course throughout the season. The main way to judge yourself was how you competed against the field, and I placed 16th at the District race in a field of 150+ runners. Compared to last week where I placed 20th in a 13 team field, I definitely upped my standing. On top of that, I was the first 4th man to cross the finish line from any team!
Then There Were Four
We had won easily with 51 points compared to 2nd place Southview’s 91 points. The team was happy but this was just a qualifier to move onto our big test...Regional. There were always sleeper teams ready to have a breakout race, and teams who came limping into Regional because they had run themselves into the ground. We definitely weren’t a sleeper team since nobody at Regional had beaten us during the season. There was one state-ranked team that would be at Regional that we had not raced yet, Lodi Cloverleaf, so we needed to be ready to go.
Regional was to be held at Hedges-Boyer Park in Tiffin, OH, which was the site of the Tiffin CC Carnival. If you remember from my earlier blog submission, Tiffin was the race that had runners go down a hill, through a small creek, and up the other side of the hill. Since it was October 26th and usually cold, the race avoided the creek but kept most of the main course intact. This would be an excellent opportunity for me to compare how I progressed from early in the season to late. On September 7th at Tiffin, I ran an 18:06 and it was fairly hot, so this would be interesting.
The one thing I remember from that race was going out too fast and having to regroup in the last mile of the race if I wanted to compete. Unfortunately, I dropped to 5th man for the team at Regional, but only by one second! Dan Harrington had run a 17:02 and I was 17:03, which became my second fastest time of the year besides the sub 17. I was stoked after seeing that time posted! I know it wasn’t hot and I didn’t have to run through a creek, but I ran a 1:03 PR from the first time running at Tiffin.
Time to Shine
As a team, we just got by Cloverleaf with a 78 to 84 score, so we were now Regional Champs! We had punched our ticket to the state meet, and I would be remissed if I didn’t mention Steve Baugh’s performance on that day.
Steve always ran in the shadow of Brad because he would have been most team’s number one man. He proved it that day with his performance at the Regional meet when Brad was off his game. Steve stepped up and crushed the course by placing 4th overall with a 16:15, and I believe he was the catalyst to our win that day.
We took home some more hardware from Regional, but I was absolutely terrified of next Saturday to race at the state meet. The negativity was beginning to creep back in and fears of choking at the race. It was going to be a looooong week.