Joe O'Neill Invite

Smiles everywhere!  Friday October 15th 2010!  The day that everybody was happy to run cross country!  Usually people associate cross country with pain, courage and pain and often times that is true.  In order to run fast, sometimes you have to gut out a tough race, but at the Joe O'Neill invite yesterday, it seemed like fast times where just a matter of completing the course, gut checks not necessary!


Of course many individuals really dug down deep yesterday and pushed through some physical and mental barriers, but you would never have been able to tell the way everyone was grinning ear to ear.  It seemed as though the entire state of Delaware ran their personal best times on a day when nobody really expected it.


Bellevue state park is THE fastest course in Delaware and perhaps in the tri-state area.  Every year at the Joe O'Neill Invite (formerly the Bellevue Invite) teams and individuals expect to come here and run their season best times on this course.  Many often run their personal bests too, but it seemed like this year was somehow extra special.  Maybe it was the fact that it had rained heavily the night before and then the day of the meet was quite chilly and very, very windy.  Before the meet began, everyone seemed skeptical that this year's meet would provide the same usual fast times it normally does.


Then the finishers started coming in!  The boys’ varsity race was flying!  35 teams toed the line.  There was simply an ocean of competitors.  At every point on the course there was a line of individuals.  Nobody was alone the entire race.  There was always a group to run with, from first place to last!


This is probably one of the main reasons why everyone ran so fast.  Cross country, distance running, can be tough alone.  When you're in a race, especially if you are hurting, sometimes it is easy to just give up, because nobody is around and nobody sees you quit inside.  But yesterday, every single runner was surrounded!  A runner couldn't help but race!  It was like being swept up in a train made up of fellow competitors!


The emotion and excitement carried everyone to amazingly fast times!  The boys’ varsity included some of the fastest times all-time for the course and state!  Sebastian Oja took home the win finishing in a blazing 15:30, just 7 seconds off the course and state record time!  It is a true testament to Phil Weigel's greatness that his record still stands even after so many great runners have run this course, especially after the assault on the record books that occurred yesterday!


Other outstanding performances in the boys varsity race included Sebastian's teammate, JR Creekmore, who finished second with a time of 15:39, just edging out Sam Parsons of Tatnall by less than 3 tenths of a second!


Probably the most amazing result of the day on the boys’ side was the 12th place finish of Steve Garrett of Tatnall.  His time was 16:20, which is a time that most anybody in high school would be extremely proud of.  There is just one small thing...Steve is an 8TH GRADER!  Unbelievable!  He ran 16:20 and he is only in the 8th grade.  Wow!


The fireworks did not stop there, as the girls decided to one up the boys by not only running close to record times, but by obliterating the course and state records!


Lindsey Olivere destroyed the previous course record set by the great Juliet Bottorf by 11 seconds.  And the amazing thing about that, she finished 3rd!  The most appropriate thing one could say, are you kidding me?


The two girls who finished in front of her, none other than Julie Macedo and Haley Pierce!  These two girls, who are juniors by the way, so we get to see them for yet another year, ran ridunculous times of 17:05 and 17:08!  Again, are you kidding me! 


 Not only did these three girls obliterate the previous course and state record, but they made it look easy.  They ran tough, hard and fast, but none of them pushed to the outer most limits!  What does that say?  The state record for girls in Delaware will soon be 16: something!  Really, really mind blowing.


The unbelievable day didn't stop there.  Times for boys and girls JV were off the charts as well.  Was there anybody who did not run a personal best?  I don't think so. 


At the end of the day, you would not have been able to tell that hundreds of young people had just ran 5000 meters in the fastest times of their lives!  They were too happy!  Cross country hurts.  It's hard.  Right?  Well, in Delaware at least, if you can stick it out until the middle of October and put forth your best effort at Bellevue, the smiles and joy make all the summer training well worth it!


And the pain of 5000 meters of cross country running?  At the Joe O'Neill Invite, you're running too fast for pain to keep up with you!