Traffic jams… who needs ‘em!
Certainly not West Holmes senior Vinny DeFelice, who saw his hopes for All-Ohio status dashed in the stop-and-start traffic if the Div. II state cross country meet.
For DeFelice, the final results of the boys Div. II state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron Saturday, Nov. 5 weren’t all that they appeared to be.
Yes, DeFelice did not finish in the top 25 to earn All-Ohio status, which was his ultimate goal.
DeFelice placed 34th, leaving him on the outside looking in. However, his time of 16:24 was just four seconds off of his career best, meaning that when it mattered the most, he was at his best. In addition, his time of 16:24 was four seconds better than what All-Ohioan Sam Boyd ran in 2013, and Boyd’s time placed him 15th.
Such was the incredible talent in this Div. II race that saw the state add five teams to the fray, and that alone may have been DeFelice’s undoing, not because of the additional guys vying for a top-25 spot, but rather the traffic jam it caused in trying to manipulate a game plan.
“It’s disappointing,” DeFelice said after the race. “The whole first mile, there were so many guys jammed together, that it was just stop and go, stop and go, stop and go. After that, my legs just went to trash. I tried to make my moves, and even with 100 meters to go, I had number 25 right in my sights, and I tried to make the move and it just wasn’t happening.”
“The time wasn’t bad, I think that was OK, but nothing went as planned because we were so congested. It was hard to move, and when you did move, you had to surge to do it, and that got the best of me in the race.”
DeFelice said picking off runners in front of him over the final two miles was difficult, and while he was disappointed, he was honored to return to state for the third time in his illustrious career after not making it last year as a junior.
“I would have loved to have made the podium (top 20) or All-Ohio, but this is where you want to end your career here at state,” DeFelice said.
As a three-time state qualifier, he has put himself among the elite runners in West Holmes history.
“That’s his second fastest time ever, so we can’t complain about that,” said West Holmes coach Kevin Beachy. “He ran the race we wanted him to run. He just didn’t have anything left at the end to make the move he wanted to make. The state definitely made this a lot tougher by bringing in the additional teams. But I give Vinny credit. He battled hard, and he has made it to state three times. He’s been a heck of a competitor over the years, and he leaves here with one of the great cross country careers we have ever had at West Holmes.”
Beachy said that cross country times continue to get lower and lower as a whole, as athletes continue to find ways to carve time. The winner of the race was Buckeye Trail’s Zach Kreft, a prerace favorite who ran a smoldering 15:16 to win by 25 seconds.