Hadley, Johnson to run in Foot Locker regional

Boardman’s Mark Hadley and McDonald’s Bobby Johnson haven’t let a little snow stop their training – to a point.

“(Tuesday), we went to the YMCA and ran on the treadmill because it was so bad,” Hadley said. “We like to try to tough it out through the elements, but when it gets to the point where it’s going to be detrimental to us, we try to get inside.”

Both of them are trying to find dry tracks to run on, but with the recent influx of snow, it’s a little tough.

“We try to stay out of the mud and the snow as much as possible,” said Hadley, this year’s Ohio’s Division I state cross country champion. “We do a lot of our speed work on a course, but we had to adjust some of that and go to Mill Creek Park.”

Johnson, this year’s Division III state champion, said he won’t let the cold weather bother him.

“I’ve never run a race in the snow,” Johnson said. “I don’t have much experience in that. The cold, it can get to your breathing a little. I try to keep it normal, just like any other race. Then, you run the best off that and run what you know.”

The two area state champion cross country runners are competing in today’s Foot Locker Regional in Kenosha, Wis.

Hadley and Johnson have run together a couple of times the past few weeks.

“It’s awesome,” Hadley said. “To be able to train with another state champion is a really cool experience. I’d run with him a few times in the past. We’ve gotten together two or three times since state and run with him. It’s cool to talk to him and see how he trains a little bit.”

Some of Hadley’s Boardman teammates have been running with him to help him train, as well as Johnson.

“A lot of my guys are taking a break and I don’t have anyone to run with,” Johnson said. “I’m getting bored and I’m trying to run with them a couple of days a week. I know them pretty well.”

Johnson said Hadley’s prowess should carry him in today’s elite race – pitting the nation’s best runners against one another. Besides Hadley and Johnson, Newark’s Toby Hardwick (second, Division I), Twinsburg’s Garrett Crichlow (ninth, Division I) and Independence’s Tyler Polman (sixth, Division III) will represent Ohio.

“It’s a challenge for anyone. He hasn’t lost a race all year,” Johnson said. “He’s one of the better kids across the state.

“He’s gotten better each year. He’s physically, mentally a strong runner – one of the best Ohio has ever seen from what I’ve known. He’s a tough competitor. He’s someone who’s not going to let you have it. I expect big things out of him, also, today. Hopefully he can do some good stuff for Ohio, along with some other guys there.”

Johnson, who finished 13th in recent Nike Cross Regional in Terre Haute, Ind., said he’ll give an all-out effort today.

“I think that set me up pretty good and put me in a good position,” Johnson said. “Mentally, too, I’m going to have some confidence going in. That’s the biggest thing that helped me with, and this time I’ll have that extra confidence to try and run up in the front and run with some of those guys without having that hesitation.”

Hadley finished 63rd at last year’s Foot Locker Regional, but hopes to run in the top 10 and head out to the nationals in San Diego.

“Last year I had a similar goal, but I don’t know if it was necessarily realistic,” he said. “I had a really, really bad race there. I’m ranked third in the region and hopefully I can go in there and run exactly how I’m ranked.”

With the winter storm running through the country, Johnson and Hadley are wondering if they’ll have to bundle up for today’s race.

“I’ve never worn anything besides a jersey. I think that streak might end (today). It’s looking like it’s going to be pretty cold. I’ll probably end up having to dress a little warmer during the race,” Johnson said. “I’ll probably wear something underneath my jersey. At some point, it gets uncomfortable running. It’ll help me if I wear shirt and gloves or a shirt underneath. I’ll be a lot more comfortable during the whole thing.”

“I’ve heard on the extended forecast it was going to be about 40 (degrees),” Hadley said. “Anything under 40, I’m going to have to break that streak as well.”