By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Mogadore senior
By Tom Hardesty
Record-Courier staff writer
Mogadore senior Andy Graham just had a feeling.
Prior to the Division III state cross country meet at Scioto Downs in Columbus last Saturday, Graham, a first-time state qualifier, could just tell that his final race as a high school cross country runner might be his best one.
And it was.
Graham ran a school-record time of 16:18 in placing seventh overall, earning all-state status (top 25) in the process and the Record-Courier/Robinson Memorial Hospital Student-Athlete of the Week. Earlier in the postseason, he had placed ninth at the district and seventh at the regional.
"I was just confident," said Graham. "I just think I'm a pretty confident person. I believe in myself; I think that's the main key to my success."
"He amazed me. He truly amazed me," said Mogadore coach Don Whitmer. "He told me before the race, 'You know I haven't run my best race yet. I feel like I'm going to pop one today.' And he did. I was thrilled, and I'm still thrilled for the kid.
"He ran two brilliant races in a row," said Whitmer of Graham's performance at the regional and state meets. "We coasted him at the district. There was no reason to peak for that race, because we knew he would get out. But we peaked him for the regional because if you don't make it out of there, obviously you won't have a chance to peak the next week. But he managed to peak again last weekend.
"He's just a great kid from a great family. He's just a classy kid."
Prior to Graham's arrival on the scene, former Wildcat great Jeff Moneypenny dominated the Mogadore record books _ and still does, to a certain extent. When Moneypenny ran in 1977, the length of a cross country race was 2 1/2 miles. Now, it is 3.1 miles.
Moneypenny finished second overall at state in the individual race and has the school 2 1/2-mile record time of 12:37. Graham's records represent the 3.1-mile race.
"Moneypenny was a terrific runner," said Whitmer, "and I have to rank Andy right there with him based on what he's done."
Graham, fourth at the Portage County League meet this season, was the league's highest boys finisher at the state meet in any division.
"He broke his own school record three times this year," said Whitmer. "We've dealt with three things with him all year. We call it PCI: patience, confidence and intelligence. The kid has great confidence in himself and has a great work ethic, and when he combined patience with his intelligence, he really came on."
Graham, who has a 3.9 grade-point average and is a member of the National Honor Society, said he ran free and easy at Scioto Downs.
"I was pretty calm," he said. "I usually just tell myself that if I give it my best shot, there's nothing to be ashamed of. If I run my best, that's all I can do.
"I honestly didn't feel all that tired until the last 75 or 100 yards. I was kind of disappointed that a couple kids passed me at the end, but seventh place is still pretty good."
Graham said the key Saturday was his patience. Instead of bursting out of the gate, he paced himself and picked his spots to make up ground on the leaders.
"I just kept passing people," he said. "I felt that I ran smart. I know
a lot of kids started too fast and completely burned themselves out. I
just kind of relaxed at the beginning and waited for the race to come to