"Through Throngs of Screaming Teenage Girls" by Marty Mazur
There was plenty of cheering and screaming going on at Friday's Nittany Lion Qualifier. Much of it was OUTSIDE of the Multi-Sport Facility, as throngs of star-struck teenage girls gathered around the Bryce Jordan Center, expecting a peek at the Back Street Boys. The girls didn't give the assembled athletes a second look, not even confusing the 24 Nittany Valley Track Club runners with Back Street Boys roadies. But there was enough cheer in the crowd inside the MSF to encourage the assembled crew to give their all in the final Indoor Mile competition of the season -- a "predicted mile" contest.
There were enough runners for two heats this time. The heats were roughly separated into one group that expected to run faster than about 5:50 and another that didn't expect to go quite that fast. The big question confronting each runner was whether to run "all out", or to try to match a predicted time that each entrant submitted before the race. In some cases, both of these options amounted to the same thing, but some runners were obviously pacing themselves to get the "Closest Predicted Time" prize. Of the 24 runners who competed, 11 came within 6 seconds of their predicted time.
The first heat was the "slow" heat. It featured the "Tossed Gauntlet" challenge between Marty Mazur and Morgan Wasikonis. Morgan and Marty run pretty close in 5Ks, but over the last two years Morgan is far ahead of Marty in their mini-rivalry. But Marty surprised Morgan two weeks ago in the last Indoor Mile, and raised the stakes by predicting a time 8 seconds faster for this Friday's race. Morgan one-upped him in the prediction, but Marty prevailed in the race. Thursday Track paid dividends as Marty led the heat from start to finish, barely broke 6:00 (5:59.93!), but didn't get too close to his predicted 5:54. Morgan came in second, in 6:04. Other runners in the heat included: Brian Lageman, age 14, a mainstay at this Fall's Youth Cross-Country series, who came in third in 6:26; Rachel Smith, arm-twisted into running again this week and shaving a few tenths off of last week's time in 6:33.01; Jim Garthe, besting his prediction by over 4 seconds and finishing in 6:35.57; Andy Mazur and Jenny Zilberberg, who ran another close wire-to-wire race. Andy, age 13, ran a time of 7:04.10, and was just a bit over his prediction of 7-flat. Jenny, a Penn State graduate student, came within two seconds of her predicted time of 7:07, running 7:08.84, and breaking her mark of a couple of weeks ago by 6 seconds; Lori Gravish, who obliterated her chances for the Predicted Time prize by running 7:26.65, over half a minute faster than her prediction; Truman Hershberger, who was probably trying to nail his predicted time of 8-flat (he got close in 7:58.96, but was nowhere near his time of two weeks ago); and Betsy Lindstrom, who also smashed her prediction by a wide margin, finishing in 8:32.23.
The second heat featured the speed demons, as well as a couple of youngsters who showed up a little late for the slower heat. Denny Simonetti wowed the crowd by peeling off his eight laps in 4:54.59. Denny sets a tough standard for himself. Though 5 seconds better than his time of two weeks ago, he was still over six seconds shy of his predicted time of 4:48. Bearded Boyd Brumbaugh came in second in 5:25.23, besting his prediction by nearly 5 seconds. Jim Moore, who was not going to let today's race with Mike Dooris come down to the final kick, took eight seconds off his time of two weeks ago. Jim finished in 5:27.86 and bested his prediction by over 4 seconds. Ben Neibel was 8 seconds better than his prediction, finishing in 5:32.05. Steve Bodner also had no trouble crushing his predicted time of 5:44, finishing in 5:32.30. Bill Smith took over 4 seconds off his previous time, and two seconds off his prediction, by finishing in 5:33.09. The Closest Predicted Time Award, (a Runner's World Calendar) went to Metronome Mike Dooris, whose finishing time of 5:35.44 was 0.56 seconds faster than his prediction. Truman Hershberger and Jenny Zilberberg, both of the first heat, got the second and third place awards (Creamery Ice Cream certificates). Both of them were within two seconds of their predictions. Marv Hall finished in 5:38.26, almost 7 seconds faster than his prediction. Bob Cornwall gets the Hero Award. After giving blood Friday morning, Bob ran the race in 5:52, only 7 seconds slower than his prediction. Mike Casper, who predicted 6-flat, ran very close to that in 6:02.87. Heidi Rickard, a dazzling jester at the New Year's Eve Resolution 5K and an indispensable volunteer at last Fall's Youth Cross-Country series, predicted 5:45 and pulled in at 6:03.42. Jacqui Maillet, who wanted to run 5:30.5, came in at 5:55.43. Brothers Brandon and Christian Eck showed up late for the first heat and had to run with the gazelles. These two youngsters showed a lot a heart, going out a bit too fast for the first couple of laps, but finishing strong nonetheless. Older brother Brandon started his kick on lap 8, and finished "looking good". The video on the big-screen scoreboard followed Christian as he ran his final stretch, accompanied by cheers from the crowd. (Christian's a little too young to miss the fact that there weren't too many screaming teenage girls INSIDE the MSF.) Unfortunately, the times for the Eck boys were not available from the scoring system, probably because they switched heats.
Thanks to Morgan for organizing our participation in the indoor track meets. Thanks again to the Penn State coaches for inviting us to participate in the two meets. It was a great experience. Thanks to all the track club members who volunteered as officials during the indoor track season. I hope I'm not leaving anyone out when I say these included Greg Fredericks, Steve and Carol Gentry, Bill Bahnfleth, Morgan Wasikonis, Dave Eggler, Gerry Glyde, Mike Dooris, and Ron Cunfer.
- Numbers in parentheses are placement for Closest Predicted Time Awards -
Place Name Predicted Time Time
1. Marty Mazur 5:54 5:59.93
2. Morgan Wasikonis 5:52 6:04.24
3. Brian Lageman 6:15 6:26.16
4. Rachel Smith 6:29 6:33.01
5. Jim Garthe 6:40 6:35.57
6. Andy Mazur 7:00 7:04.10
7. Jenny Zilberberg 7:07 7:08.84 (3)
8. Lori Gravish 8:05 7:26.65
9. Truman Hershberger 8:00 7:58.96 (2)
10. Betsy Lindstrom 8:50 8:32.23
Place Name Predicted Time Time
1. Denny Simonetti 4:48 4:54.59
2. Boyd Brumbaugh 5:30 5:25.23
3. Jim Moore 5:32 5:27.86
4. Ben Neibel 5:40 5:32.05
5. Stephen Bodner 5:44 5:32.30
6. Bill Smith 5:35 5:33.09
7. Mike Dooris 5:36 5:35.44 (1)
8. Marv Hall 5:45 5:38.26
9. Bob Cornwall 5:45 5:52.59
10. Jacqui Maillet 5:30.5 5:55.43
11. Mike Casper 6:00 6:02.87
12. Heidi Rickard 5:45 6:03.42
13. Brandon Eck (?) (?)
14. Christian Eck (?) (?)