By Rob Kiser
Piqua cross country coach Aaron Hemmert knows he couldn’t have a better example for the young runners in his program than junior Andy Mayse.
“He puts the time in during the summer,” Hemmert said. “He is the first one at practice every day and the last one to leave. He does everything he is asked to do. He is a great role model for young runners in our program.”
After having a breakout season as a sophomore and advancing to regionals, Mayse has followed it up with an even better junior season.
He won the Covington Invitational and Willowbrook Invitational this season and finished ninth at last week’s district meet in 16:51 to advance to Saturday’s Division I regional meet at Troy.
Mayse will run at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“He ran a lot of miles in the summer,” Hemmert said. “He has had a great season. Now, he wants to take it to the next level.”
Mayse admits last year’s regional meet was a new experience for him.
“It was a little intimidating,” he said. “It was the first time running by myself (without his team). I will be more prepared for that this year. I definitely think last year will help me.”
While Mayse easily qualified for regionals at last week’s district race, Mayse wasn’t satisfied with his race.
“I know I ran too slow of a first mile,” he said. “I need to run a five-minute first mile. I know I can do that. I have done that before.”
Hemmert said that would be a key Saturday.
“A fast first mile always helps,” he said. “It (the regional) is a huge race. Running against strong competition last week helps. You just have to be able to go out with the lead pack.”
And while going out fast sounds simple enough, there is a fine line there. While it can be dangerous to compare times from different courses, Mayse comes in with the 53rd fastest time.
“You have to be careful with that,” Mayse said about going out really fast. “Last year, I ran a 4:55 first mile and that was too fast. You want to run a good first mile and then you have to find a way to stay with that lead group of 16 or 20 runners.”
Mayse said his work in the summer has been a key.
“Your base miles are very important,” he said. “I know I am going to need to run a lot faster this weekend (than last week).”
Mayse just laughs when it is suggested he is a role model.
“I just go out and try to do my best every race,” he said. “I have never thought of myself in that way at all.”
But, he wouldn’t complain about adding state qualifier to his resume.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.