WHAT A DAY! Weather and course conditions started out ok, but quickly deteriorated outside of Paris Kentucky this weekend. With an unprecedented weather front raking through the Midwest late Friday night, spawning deadly tornadoes across the state, we all felt lucky to be alive Saturday morning, and even luckier to read the 5am announcement that they had delayed the start of the meet one hour. Little did we know that wasn’t going to be enough to escape the inclement weather.
Our little Josie and Jack started us off in the 8 and Under Girls and Boys races. At 10am, when the first gun went off, it was wet out but 65 degrees with a moderate 8-10 mph wind. Both kids ran bravely through the growing mud of the wild course, with Josie falling on the last turn but still getting up and finishing, and Jack jostling his way through the crowd of nearly 200 boys in his race. Amazingly, both were able to run about as fast as they have been running all season, leading to strong finishes in the middle of their respective packs.
We had no one in the 9-10 age group races, so the team had a bit of a break before Natalie started warming up. The temperature was dropping (as it did all day), and the wind was picking up (as it did all day), but as she started her warm up things seemed on schedule. We checked her in 15 minutes before her race, leaving her out on the course in her racing uniform, and began the boys’ warm ups. Just then, a gale blew in and a deluge began. We rushed the boys to the team tent as carefully as we could – through the 6-inch-deep mud and pelting rain – but it was too late; everyone was drenched and freezing. Even worse, just when the gun was set to go off for Natalie’s race, they called it off and delayed it for 30 minutes. She dragged herself back to the tent, drenched and chilled to the bone. The heater helped a little, but the ragged wind and cold rain left their marks on our intrepid Hawks.
By the time Natalie was able to make it back out to the start line, she was cold, stiff, and (at least from where I was standing) looked completely miserable. She didn’t let that stop her though! Through the light rain and cold wind, Natalie battled her way through the slippery, muddy course to finish mid-pack in the Girl’s 11-12 race, making all of us so proud.
Next up, after doing their best to “warm up” in the freezing cold rain, the Boy’s 11-12 team stripped down and lined up for their race. At the start, the temperature had dropped to 45 degrees (39 with the wind chill), with a 20 mph wind and 35 mph gusts, and a smattering of rain. Nevertheless, our brave team took it to the field, and ran with incredible heart. Elias led the way, our only All-American of the meet finishing 6th and just 10 seconds behind the winner. Owen had a break-out performance, finishing as our number 2, with Charlie and Lou on his heels. Nate rounded out our team with a gutsy performance after being knocked down mid race. Though we were hoping for a top ten team finish, our kids gave everything they had and we ended up 18th out of 23 teams. That just leaves room to grow for next year!
Rounding out the team’s effort, Ryko and John finally got their shot in the Boy’s 13-14 race. The wind chill was 36 degrees by their race, and the gusts were topping 40 mph, but nothing was going to stop our Hawks. Even though both slipped and fell at the start, (and Ryko fell two more times on the course), both fought their way to the finish. While neither athlete seemed happy with their performance, the fact is that by the time they were on the course it was nearly impossible to get any push without heavy-duty spikes (of which neither were equipped). Take it from someone who has competed all over the country in all sorts of conditions – just finishing that race was a win!
Here’s the bottom line – despite the incredibly challenging weather and unbelievably difficult course, every Delta Hawk toed the line, ran with heart, and finished their race without complaint, without fear, without even blinking. Never has a coach been more proud of his team; every athlete competed, earned their way to Nationals, supported each other, and ran with incredible heart. Every athlete left it all out there. What an experience, and what a great day!
Delta Hawks Coaches