When an athlete makes it to the pinnacle of the track and field season, the OHSAA state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, it is a given that everyone there is great at what they do. It also takes an iron will and a sense of clam to push aside the butterflies, and when athletes are running distance, it takes a huge amount of mental toughness to achieve a top spot worthy of a podium berth.
That was the case in the boys Div. III 3200, where Smithville great Joey Coudriet was competing.
On a balmy, sun-drenched June 3 day that brought the heat-factor issue into the race, the Smithies senior was able to overcome his nerves, the field and the heat to fulfill his dream of becoming an All-Ohioan by placing in the top eight of the Div. III race. Coudriet burst out of a pack of runners late in the race to secure the fourth spot.
“The heat is there for everyone, and you just have to deal with it,” Coudriet said. “It’s hot every year at this time of the year, so you just learn to put it behind you mentally.”
Coudriet ran a 9:46.10, a tad slower than his PR but a time that easily placed him on the podium, making him a Div. III All-Ohioan in his senior campaign.
“I really was hoping to come here and run a PR,” Coudriet said. “I didn’t get that, but I did get fourth place in the state, and that is something I can’t complain about.”
Coudriet had qualified for state last year in the race, and although he ran a very similar time, finishing that race in 9:46.45, he ended up placing 11th last year, so this year’s finishing spot was a whole lot more satisfying for the senior.
“I knew we were not even going my PR pace, so I knew I had a lot left in the tank,” Courdriet said. “I knew I should be able to catch up and overtake that group of runners in front of me.”
Coudriet did that and cruised from about 11th place up in front of the pack and then slowly began systematically pulling away from the pack of six runners who trailed the top-three runners by some distance.
Down the final stretch, Coudriet was at his best and easily added distance between himself and the runners who placed five through nine.
“Halfway through that race I didn’t think I was going to get fourth,” Coudriet said. “But this is my last high school race, and I had a lot of great support and people cheering me on, and that really helped push me harder.”
Coudriet said he will continue training throughout the summer as he prepares for the next phase of his career, performing collegiately with the Malone University Pioneers.
“I am looking forward to the next part of my career,” Coudriet said.