Springfield, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The Springfield Catholic Irish Invitational is one of the biggest meets in the area with more than 40 schools participating.
When presented with fields numbering in the low triple digits, the eventual winners in Republic senior Ryan Way and Marshfield freshman Tabitha Weber both had the same race plan.
“I just told her (Weber) to get out because with this many people you have to get out or you are going to get trapped in the middle and she wouldn’t be able to do what she does,” Marshfield coach David Gray said.
The seasoned Way echoed the thought.
“I can’t stress how important it is (to get out quickly),” Way said. “My past three years I have been a slow starter and a really strong finisher. This year we focused more on getting out and trying to…be up there with the front pack from the beginning of the race.”
Way controlled the race throughout despite battling through an illness recently. Running from the front may be something new for the Tiger harrier this year, but it is a welcome change.
“It is a completely new race,” Way said. “Instead of worrying about catching the guy, you have to worry about sometimes running by yourself (and) sometimes making sure that guy behind you doesn’t catch you like today. (It is) a totally different mindset.”
Way would win the race in a time of 16:36.10. Branson’s Jesse Herd was second at 16:42.8. The Stockton duo of Ethan Zitting and Ryan Pate finished in third and fourth at 16:45.10 and 16:49.20, respectively. Marshfield’s Josh Bertoldie rounded out the top five in a time of 16:57.40.
Weber won by an even wider margin as she opened up a bit in the second half of the race to run a time of 19:09.7, which beat out Branson’s Adeline Holder who finished in 19:32.80.
The Marshfield freshman’s recovery rate during and after a race are one of her greatest strengths as a runner.
“Her recovery rate is (great). You let her walk a little bit and boom she is off to go,” Gray said. “That is who she is. That is why she can hold on this long and hold them off that well.”
Megan Hergesheimer of Republic finished in third at 19:40.50. Holder’s teammate Torri Holder was fourth at 19:52.70. Buffalo’s Shelby Jackson rounded out the top five at 20:09.10
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