LEXINGTON — After coming up short of a state bid in cross country, Black River’s Gus Kazek had been waiting Saturday afternoon’s race at the Lexington Division II Regional.
The senior broke off the best 3,200-meter run of his career to earn his first state trip since his junior year of cross country — and his first in track — with a third-place finish.
“It feels pretty good to make it down to state,” he said. “I’ve worked so hard after coming up short in the fall. It feels good to accomplish one of my goals.”
Kazek will be joined by Patriot Athletic Conference rival Ryan Gallagher of Buckeye, who finished right behind Kazek and earned the final qualifying spot for Saturday’s final at Jesse Owens Stadium in Columbus.
After not making it to the podium a season ago at Lexington, Kazek erased the bad memories with a personal-best 9:54.72 — just two seconds shy of the school record of 9:52.4 set by Mark Morgan in 1979.
“During the race, I stayed with the pack the first three laps and then a couple of guys made their moves, so I went with them,” he said. “I just went out there to race people. I know people were faster than me, so I just went out and raced.”
One of those guys was Gallagher, as the defending regional champ was sitting second for more than half the race before being passed. He finished fourth in a season-low 9:56.69.
“I know it wasn’t best,” he said. “I was actually with the leader for about 6½ laps and then fell off a bit. It was more my form breaking down. I have the strength to keep it going if I race consistently for the last 3-4 laps.”
Gallagher will return to the Ohio State campus for his final high school race — the same site where he took fourth last June.
While he didn’t defend his title at Lexington, this time of year is about surviving.
“Yeah, it feels good to advance and, obviously, it was not the way I wanted to, but no one remembers who wins at regionals,” he said. “It’s all about what you do at state.”
In another regional:
Bedford Division II
BEDFORD — Medina County residents Mick Iacofano, Rachel Iacofano and Autumn Young punched their tickets to Columbus in multiple events.
Mick Iacofano, a Montville Township resident, broke the Bearcat Stadium record in winning the 1,600 (4:22.87). The St. Vincent-St. Mary senior later took the title in the 3,200 in 9:52.51. On Thursday, he paced the 4×800 relay to a second-place finish.
His younger sister, Rachel Iacofano, will be making a state appearance in her first prep season after earning the final bid in the 3,200 (11:48.48) and running as a leg on a runner-up 4×8 relay.
Young, a CVCA sophomore from Liverpool Township, anchored the winning 4×4 relay, along with finishing second in the 100 (12.50), 200 (25.88) and long jump (17-3). She lost to Ursuline’s Alexandra Carnatha by a hundredth of a second.
Black River’s Makayla Koerner finished in a tie for 11th place in the long jump (16 feet, 7 inches).
Buckeye sprinter Rhyanna Wroblesky didn’t qualify for the finals in the 200 after running a 27.58 in her prelim.
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