Nearly 10 seconds behind the leader and over two seconds ahead of the third-place runner during Tuesday’s Old Fort Invitational, it would’ve been easy for Put-In-Bay’s Elliot Kowalski to feel like he was running on an island at times.
But that’s already something the junior is very familiar with.
Kowalski, who finished second (17:21.16) in the boys 5K run, and his Panther teammates have a different approach to training. Instead of running a traditional cross country course at its high school, like many other schools do, Put-In-Bay has to run on South Bass Island, which is 3.7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.
“There’s not very many hills, it’s basically flat,” Kowalski said. “It’s hard to do long distances, too. You just have to do loops around the island.”
What else is an island kid going to do to keep busy during a school year?
“If you don’t do sports, you really have nothing else to do in the winter,” Kowalski said. “And with only 16 kids in the high school, we all do sports and we all know each other well, which is the good part about it.”
Tyler King was 41st, Cody Porche 48th, Carter Pugh 51st, Casey Pippert-Ladd 54th and Ian Pippert-Ladd finished 61st as the Panthers were sixth as a team with 174 points. Ashland Crestview, led by winner A.J. Trent (17:1139), was first 36, followed by the host Stockaders with 40.
Danbury’s Evan Pope was 40th with a time of 20:44.89.
As for Kowalski, he initially started his race in the fifth spot, before moving up to second after going down the big hill just a few hundred yards from the start line.
“The hill on this course always kills me,” Kowalski said. “I always go too hard on it. You definitely want to go slow before you hit it, because you need all the energy you can get.”
Kyle Mumford ran 55th for Danbury, which had two runners in the race.
Put-In-Bay freshman Sophia Schroeder was the area’s top finisher in the girls race, taking 31st with a time of 24:30.79. Danbury’s Amanda Kettler was 40th.
Liberty-Benton won the girls race with 42 points, topping Clyde with 77. The Fliers’ Olivia Hammons was the overall winner with a 20:24.34.