John Bozek was nervous before the National District cross-country championship meet on Oct. 28. The Hayfield senior and defending district champion expected stiff competition and knew he would need to work through the nerves. Head coach Ed Geraty told him how.
"I talked to him beforehand and I told him, ‘Cross-country meets aren’t won in the first half-mile,’" the coach said. "‘There’s going to be people sprinting out in front of you. Let them go and then run a smart race and get them in the second and third mile’ and that’s exactly what he did."
Bozek crossed the finish line in a personal-best 15 minutes, 55 seconds and captured his second consecutive district championship. Five other Hawks finished in the top 15 as Hayfield pulled away from Edison to win the team title, as well.
"This one’s even more special because it’s the second time I won it," Bozek said. "It feels great. It’s a sense of accomplishment. … This year we actually won. Last year, we fell short, so it was kind of dampened. This year, the team won, too, so it’s that added" enjoyment.
Hayfield’s Jacob Miller finished second with a time of 16:04. Kirubel Aklilu (16:15) finished sixth, Christopher Page (16:42) was 12th, Cory Fish (16:53) placed 13th and Gabriel Larios (16:53) placed 14th. The Hawks scored 34 points, 23 better than second-place Edison. Yorktown finished third with 102 points and Stuart (127) finished fourth. The top four teams advance to regionals.
Last season, Edison edged Hayfield by one point for the district crown.
"They ran a smart, tactical race," Geraty said. "Our whole goal was to get the boys to run together as a pack. My third, fourth, fifth and sixth man all finished close together. That’s what you need to do as a team to win cross-country meets.
"Having six boys in the top 15 was a great accomplishment. Having that many boys be all-district is amazing."
The Hayfield girls placed third, earning a trip to regionals. Freshman Abigail Power was the team’s top finisher, placing third with a time of 18:54. Melanie Trammell, in her first season competing in cross country, placed 11th at 20:32.
"The girls stepped it up, as well," Geraty said. "Placing in the top four in our district was up in the air."
The Northern Region meet is Nov. 4 at Burke Lake Park.