Hadley has choice to make

BOARDMAN – Boardman runner Mark Hadley has a decision to make before Wednesday’s Division I Austintown Regional track and field meet. His finals are Friday, just in time for the humidity to kick in, as temperatures are forecasted in the 90s.

The Boardman junior has clocked personal best times of 4 minutes, 12 seconds in the 1,600-meter run and 9:15 in the 2-mile.

“I’m still considering it,” Hadley said of doing the 1,600. “It’ll come down to how well I think I can do in the 2-mile because that’s my main event. I don’t want to take away from it by doing the mile first.”

He ranks as one of the state’s best in both events, but having to run both finals on the same day seems a bit unjust to Boardman boys track and field coach John Phillips.

“I think it’s unfair because I don’t think you get a true state meet by forcing great distance runners to have to choose one or the other when they could easily, probably, with enough rest, be potential state champions in multiple distance events,” he said. “That’s kind of a downside at this point in the season. If it were a dual meet or an invitational, Mark would have plenty of time to be able to rest and run both and score very high in both.”

Heat. Humidity. It makes the strongest of runners wilt.

Not Hadley.

“I’d rather be that hot than cold like it was (last) Friday,” he said.

That said, placing in the top four in both in the heat might be considered a Herculean feat. The top four in each regional final advances to state.

“You factor in a 90-degree night and it’s almost impossible to double and be in the top four in both events,” Phillips said. “Even though Mark usually doesn’t get affected by the weather as badly as other folks, it’s still going to be very, very difficult to be able to compete in both let alone excel in both. He’s going to have to make choice at some point between now and Wednesday.”

Wednesday, Hadley has his teammates, juniors Alan Burns and Justin Maroni, along with his younger brother and freshman, Nathan, running the 4×800 relay.

Junior Jacob Kelleck, who filled in for Nathan (nursing an Iliotibial band injury for two weeks), is the team alternate. Phillips said Nathan is back to 100 percent.

“Jacob has done a fantastic job filling in for Nate the last two weeks,” Phillips said.

Boardman’s plan is to hang with Massillon Jackson, who won the 4×800 Federal League title with a 7:58. The Spartans ran 8:07 during Nate’s absence.

“Our plan is to revise or lineup a little bit and always be able to see purple, either right next to us or slightly ahead of us,” Phillips said.

He added the experience Boardman has this season should put the Spartans in contention for one of the four state spots out of Austintown.

“Our region is very, very good,” Phillips said. “There are easily 12 teams that could finish in the top four out of the 16 in the 4×800. We feel that we’re one of those 12.

“We feel that on a good day and the experience of running against a team like Jackson and Twinsburg already that would put us in the mix there.”

Now, the decision remains which race does Mark Hadley focus on Friday?

“Considering I’m focusing on the 2-mile, I’m encouraged,” Hadley said. “I got my mile time faster. It gives me the confidence I have the speed. There’s a lot of time to be dropped in the 2-mile.”