West Holmes runner Vinny DeFelice found himself in stitches Saturday, Nov. 1 at the boys Div. II State cross country meet in Hebron, Ohio, but it was no laughing matter.
The sophomore runner found himself cramping up with stomach pains mid way into the race, and although he gave a courageous effort, finishing 44th, it wasn’t what he had been dreaming of entering the race.
“I was trying to get on the back side of that lead pack, but I just couldn’t do it that first mile,” said DeFelice.
DeFelice said he has had no problems with congestion and cramping all season long, so this was something new he had to battle through as the race progressed.
The issues caused a little slower start than he had hoped.
“He should have got out a little faster probably,” said West Holmes coach Kevin Beachy. “He didn’t pass enough to finish where he wanted to, and it looked like he was battling a cramp pretty good in his stomach or side.”
Beachy felt the weather actually packed the group together more, condensing the group to a mob which oozed across the 3.1 mile course at National Trail Raceway.
That made maneuvering difficult, and DeFelice couldn’t make the adjustments necessary when the opportunities did arise to move up.
With a pack of runners solidly entrenched from about six to 45, Beachy said on any given day many of the runners could have flip-flopped places in the standings, depending on who was able to preform that day.
Beachy said he definitely felt as though DeFelice had what it takes to be in that top 25. It simply didn’t happen on this day.
As for the weather, Beachy said DeFelice actually was hoping for rain. The Knights sophomore was actually oping for rain, feeling as though it gave him an advantage over many runners because he is able to deal with it well.
It didn’t rain, but it was cold and windy, and DeFelice said he struggled to catch his breath early on.
“The cramp, I was so congested at the beginning of the race, that it was hard for me to breath, to get oxygen into my body,” said DeFelice. “Once I started pushing it got hard to breath, and when the wind hit you, it really knocked it out of me.”
DeFelice said he had not cramped up all season, and he said even when he was warming up, the cold and wind was clogging him up.
That left him 44th in the end, a finish which, while solid, is not what DeFelice had in mind. The experience is one in which DeFelice said he can use to learn and grow as a runner, and one which he can use as a reference point for next year.
“I know next year I will get a top 25 place,” said DeFelice. “This was probably my worst race. For what happened to me, 44th wasn’t a bad spot.”
Not bad, but not overly satisfying for a young man with very high aspirations.
He and his coach both said that this tough race will only help him heading into next year.
“Vinny is always hungry, but now, this will make him even hungrier,” said Beachy. “His goal was All-Ohio, top 25, and he has the talent to get there, it is just a matter of running the right race at the right time.”