Photo by Sam Chandler.
Shades Mountain Christian senior Dylan Pausic pushes through the pain in the last mile of the 1A-2A state championship race on Nov. 14, capping his prep cross-country career with a second-straight title.
Standing on the starting line at Oakville Indian Mounds Park on Nov. 14, Shades Mountain Christian senior Dylan Pausic knew the likely outcome of his final prep cross-country race.
The defending 1A-2A state champion, he was expected to secure his second-straight AHSAA state title.
It’s safe to say he did not disappoint.
After establishing a considerable lead of at least 40 meters by the one-mile mark, Pausic cruised to a dominant 20-second victory, clocking a time of 16:20.40 and breaking the previous 1A-2A meet record of 16:21.50.
“He kind of anticipated today was going to be the way it played out,” Shades Mountain Christian coach Glenn Ross said after the race. “I think he ran as well as he could. He ran strong. It’s just one of those things that’s hard to do when you’re by yourself, good as he is, but he runs hard, he works hard, he did well.”
After setting a hot pace out of the gate in his past few races, Pausic employed a different strategy at the state meet, aiming to stay strong and relaxed through the first two miles.
“Then the last mile,” he said, “just all guts kicking in.”
Relying on fumes down the home stretch, Pausic, who recorded a time of 16:22.81 in a landslide 46-second victory at last year’s state championship, seized his final chance at a record attempt after narrowly missing the mark in 2014.
“It was good, it was very good,” Pausic said, “but I mean, I had some personal goals that were kind of different, but that was good.”
Chief atop the list of Pausic’s other goals included breaking the elusive 16-minute barrier, a feat that stood just eight seconds off his 5k personal best. Due to the lack of competition, however, he was forced to run alone for the final two-and-a-half miles of the race, significantly increasing the difficulty of the task.
But that’s something he’s used to.
Over four minutes faster than anybody else on his team, Pausic pushed himself at practice on a daily basis, effectively building his mental toughness in preparation for race day
“My coach always tells me just to pick some time and try to enjoy yourself,” Pausic said, “because you know it’s hard running by yourself going all those miles and stuff in training.”
Characterized by perseverance and determination, Ross said Pausic made it easy to a coach a now two-time state champion, the only exception being his incredibly high threshold for an increased workload.
“The hardest part with him sometimes is pulling in the reins because he likes to push himself so hard,” Ross said.
In 7A, the Hoover High and Spain Park girls finished second and third, respectively. The Bucs’ Sydney Steely (7th) and Amellia Rumore (13th), along with the Jags’ Sarah Sims McGrath (9th) and Zoe Shore (12th), garnered All-State recognition.
On the boys’ side, Tommy McDonough clocked a personal-best time of 15:52.84 to place sixth, leading Hoover to a third-place team finish.