Toby Hardwick highlighted his cross country season with a state runner-up finish.
The Newark senior wants to take one more step up the podium in track this spring. He is off to a good start.
Hardwick capped an impressive winter Saturday, winning the 3,200 (9:20.51) in the Division I indoor state meet at Akron. Hardwick won the event by more than six seconds.
Hardwick hoped to chase Chardon’s Nick Elswick, who had the state’s top time this winter. Elswick did not compete, so Hardwick was happy to lie in the weeds during the first mile before blowing away the field during the second.
“The first mile I let everybody do their thing because I didn’t want to waste my energy and then pay for it at the end of the race,” Hardwick said. “Our first mile was a little slow, so I figured if I would have any chance of going after the 9:18 I was going for I needed to go a little fast the last mile.”
Hardwick is one of a number of area athletes traveling to compete in this weekend’s New Balance Nationals Indoor in New York City. He was just two seconds short of qualifying for the elite race.
Hardwick did most of his work during the 2013 track season in shorter events. He possibly would have qualified for the state meet in the 1,600 had he not fallen during the regional, and he was a member of the Wildcats’ state-qualifying 3,200 relay. He added the 3,200 to his repertoire this winter.
“I figured that I had more of a distance base with the condition that I was in from cross country,” Hardwick said. “It was a little hard to do any kind of speed work through the winter to be able to run those incredible mile times and half-mile times. My coaches decided to put me in the (3,200), and it became pretty successful.”
Hardwick expects to eventually focus more on the 800 and 1,600 during the outdoor season, but that still could change if he grows fonder of the longer race. It was not always this way.
The experience, however, will prepare for him the next level. He signed in February with Iowa State to compete in cross country and indoor and outdoor track.
“I was never really a big fan of running the (3,200) at all,” Hardwick said. “I just thought it was a lot of laps. I knew I was pretty decent at running distance, but I just never enjoyed the long races. I feel like after the good season I had in cross country, I had a few gears moved around. I feel like I have to adjust to different distances because you never know what is going to happen.”
Heath relay gets sliver of redemption
The Heath 1,600 relay truly will not be able to exorcise its demons until late May. But the Bulldogs are well on their way to doing it.
The quartet of seniors Josh Lines, Freddie Stinson and Matt Kaser and sophomore Carlos Rencher placed second (3:29.50) in the Division II-III indoor meet. The same relay placed fifth in the regional during the outdoor season despite running one of the top times in the state.
“They almost won it,” Heath coach Darl Keller said of Saturday’s performance. “They were not in the fast heat. They ran that without any pressure, so it was quite interesting.”
Like most area teams, the Bulldogs have been working out since January. However, they were missing in action from the competition scene. Heath did not compete in any indoor meets until late February, and the Bulldogs still managed to qualify several events to the state. The same foursome placed fourth in the 800 relay with a time of 1:32.75.
“We have just been working on our base and keeping things at a light pace,” Keller said. “We wanted to get a couple (races) in and see how they looked. That got us to where we wanted to be.”
Northridge senior finds home on podium
Northridge senior Haley Menix returned from the indoor meet with the most hardware. She earned three medals from the Division II-III girls event.
Menix placed in all three jumping events. She had five jumps more than 16 feet in the long jump, and she finished in fourth place (16-7), just missing the season best (16-8.75) she had the previous week at the Central District meet.
Menix tied for sixth (5-0) in a tightly-contested high jump. Sheridan’s Natalie Eberts won (5-2), and seven total cleared 5-0. Menix added an eighth in the triple jump (31-1.5), trailing Heath’s Claudia Allen, whose sixth-place effort (32-0) was a season best.