Into the Night, We Ride . . .
The ODAC course is known for being a super fast, flat race track where the competition is fierce and the times are quick. This week was no exception. Our Chesty Lions put in some quality efforts over the course of a week and they showed up ready to rock and roll. They knew the competition would be competitive; we had put together racing strategies and broke the course down to expose any advantages that would benefit us.
At 6:45 PM our C-Team Elite took to the course; a jumbled mess of 200+ runners in a 50ft wide piece of land all jostled for position. The boys were able to establish themselves well in the beginning and continued to move up throughout the race. George Fletcher broke away from the rest of the pack and completed the C-Team race in a new PR and a top-20 finish! The race set the precedent for what the expectations were for the remaining runners. And they took to the challenge.
The JV Girls took off next. They flew over the pancake terrain and avoided the tight quarters. Emma Roman Nose and Cyrenity Hardy-Billy broke away and made it to the top-5 by the mile with Grace Harader-Ellett in hot pursuit. The race progressed beautifully with each Lady Lion gobbling up runners over the last 800m. Emma came through the line 2nd overall in a NEW school-best top-30 5k performance for girls at 20:06.4. Each runner to this point in the night had either set a personal record or a seasonal best. It was phenomenal!
The JV Boys were ready after having seen the fast performances by their Chesty Lion brethren. The night was becoming darker as the sun fully receded beyond the horizon; it was all dark from here on out. The race was a little quicker than what our guys were ready for but Aidan Zimney and Isaac Outka were put their fitness to the test. Both crushed their previous bests and pulled a few others below that 20-minute mark.
As the JV Boys finished up, the Varsity ladies were doing their final runouts and team huddle. Bouncing around and shaking their arms out, they appeared ready and tough. Without a hitch, the Varsity ladies took off at 8:30 on the dot. Natalie Kennedy and Lucy Hardy quickly put themselves into the top-20 by the mile; both coming through in sub-6. The cool, night are was becoming cooler as the gator disappeared into the distance with hundreds of female athletes in tow. At the 2-Mile mark, our ladies were still in contention to do some damage, but the gap between 2 and 3-5 had grown substantially. By the end, Natalie had pulled out a NEW school-best top-30 5k performance in 19:35.7 with Lucy not too far behind in a school-best #2 time of 20:04.0. In this one race, we had the top-3 times ever run by a Lawrence High School female athlete, in the modern era (2015 - present). That is unheard of but a sign of changing times.
The night was only going beyond expected as the Varsity girls finished up. The Varsity boys soon found themselves toeing the line ready to show what they had; not just to their teammates but to themselves, as well. As the gun went off, the boys jockeyed for position with the surrounding teams closing in. Jack Ryan had gotten out quick to settle with the top group. As the race progressed, Jack had separated from the rest of the lions but that did not keep them from running together. Diego Klish, Xavier Klish, Keat Prescott, Jesse Self and Jack Pfeifer had managed to run with each other for the majority of the race with only Jesse losing contact in the last 800m. Jack finished in a blazing time of 15:51.3 (the first person to break 16 minutes since Roy Wedge in 2009) as Diego, Xavier, and Keat broke that pesky 18 minute mark.
Overall, the night was full of amazing racing, cool temperatures, cross-country vibes, and excited athletes. We hope that the runners gained invaluable confidence in their abilities at this race. They can all run with the best and they showed it this weekend.
Next week is at Baldwin with a few of the same teams plus Free State. It is going to be another great day to be a Lion!