PATASKALA — As Andrew Jordan stormed around his home course at Watkins Memorial on Saturday afternoon, fans from several schools raced to the stands near the finish line in the Warriors’ soccer stadium.
Word quickly got out the senior was on track to break the coveted 15-minute minute mark in the McGowan Invitational. And he didn’t disappoint.
With everyone cheering as he came down the stretch, nearly a minute ahead of the next runner, Jordan blazed a 14:59.89 that broke the meet record by 34 seconds, the course record by 24 seconds and his school record by 15 seconds.
The Warriors’ boys and girls both finished third in the huge Division I field, considered a strong indicator for next month’s district meet on the same course. Jordan was out to break 15 minutes from the start, but with no one to push him, he wasn’t sure he could do it on a course muddied by heavy rain Friday night and Saturday morning. He tipped his hat to the fans.
“Back in the woods, I was hurting. I was slowing down,” Jordan said. “But once I got into the stadium, the people in the crowd brought me in.”
Jordan admitted he went out a little fast. “The first mile, I was at 4:40 and I wanted around 4:50,” he said. “The second mile, I slowed down too much. I was at 9:42 and I wanted 9:36, so I knew I had to keep pushing. I’ve kind of learned to control my own pace.”
As fans and coaches kept shouting out his time, he was at 13:30 at the top of the woods with just less than a half mile left.
“I knew I really had to press it in,” he said.
Ultimately, he hopes to run in the Foot Locker National Championship in San Diego, featuring the top 40 runners in the nation. First, he has to place in the top 10 at the regional meet in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he was 50th in 2014. But now, he’s focused on winning a state title and helping his Warriors compete well in the Licking County League and district meets.
Thomas Worthington won the boys race with 66 points to Hilliard Darby’s 140 and 155 by Watkins in the 31-team field. Daniel White was 11th in 16:25, Erik McKean 19th in 16:42, Gerick Brewer 55th in 17:32 and Bryce Small 69th in 17:37.
Newark junior Owen Keith placed 17th out of the 213 runners in 16:40. The Wildcats were 16th with 464 points. Granville, without its top runners, was 24th with 654.
“The last two courses we had were a little slower, and he might have gone out a little too fast today,” coach Randy Noftz said. “But to get top 20 in such a big crowd is a great accomplishment. He’s running solid.”
In the girls race, Watkins junior Samantha Hyme continues to make great progress after suffering a stress fracture in her toe during the spring. She placed fourth out of 183 finishers in 19:10, as the Warriors were third with 72 points in the 27-team field. Olentangy Liberty, which took the top three spots, won with 47 to Thomas Worthington’s 64.
“I got a late start because of the injury, but since August, I’ve been real solid in training,” Hyme said. “I ran 19:10, which is what I ran here last year. It’s a very good sign, especially with the late start. I hope to get All-Ohio again, and on the podium.”
Andrea Kuhn was seventh in 19:24, Josie Cotugno eighth in 19:25, Raechel Schoenberger 15th in 20:01 and Hastings Marek 38th in 20:47 for Watkins.
“Our team is running phenomenal,” Hyme said. “It’s great to have a pack during training. I think we can win the LCL and make a run at the state.”
Granville’s girls were 13th with 408 points, while Newark was 21st with 592.