After a horrible spring in the weather department that wreaked havoc on local high school sports schedules, most fans at the OHSAA state track and field meet June 1-2 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium welcomed bright sunshine and temperatures hovering just over 80 F.
However, distance runners aren’t your run-of-the-mill fans, and rather than heat and sunshine, they like overcast skies, cool temperatures and even rain.
However, the field of 3200 runners got a dose of heat when they ran on Saturday, June 2, and that alone threw a monkey wrench into the best-laid plans.
One of the 16 runners eagerly awaiting the starter’s pistol blast to begin the race was Triway senior Nich Michels, who came into the event perched squarely amidst the runners who had a shot at a top-eight finish and All-Ohio honors.
Michels opened up with a solid start to the race, hanging around the front end of the pack. But the heat took a toll, and laps five through seven saw him slip perilously close to the edge of not making it to the podium.
However, Michels was able to recover, running a superb final lap, and was able to move past a trio of runners on the final lap to secure the eighth and final spot on the podium to earn All-Ohio status.
While his time of 9:42.71 was about four seconds slower than his qualifying time at regionals, a number of runners fell off the pace due to the heat.
“Man that was tough, but I feel good about my performance,” Michels said. “I realized with the heat it was going to be a game of keeping an even pace and then passing people, a person or two a lap, and just try to get up there.”
For the senior who has done so much for this Titans program, the thrill of finishing out his career at the state meet was something he had dreamed about, and he knew he had a shot at something special if he simply stayed within himself and didn’t panic.
“I’m proud of the program and what we’ve been able to do throughout the season,” Michels said.
By making his way to the podium, Michels made sure that all of the Titans who qualified for state went home with medals with the boys 4-by-100 relay team also doing well, taking third.