By Rob Kiser
The seed was planted last year.
A glance at the clock as Andy Mayse headed towards the finish line just speeded things up.
Mayse — after finishing fourth a year ago as a sophomore — became the first Piqua runner to win the Willowbrook Invitational Saturday and did it with his best time of 15:46.
“I wanted to get few runs under 16,” Mayse said with a smile. “I think it was a goal (winning) after last year. I always wanted to win a home race.”
He needed to seize that opportunity — because it is Piqua’s only home race of the year.
“I always like running here,” he said. “There is a lot more support and I like the course. I like the hills. They don’t bother me. Some people don’t know how to run them properly.”
While Miamisburg’s Ryan Slaughenhaup — who was clocked in 15:48 — was right behind him, Mayse wasn’t concerned.
“I wasn’t sure if he was close to me or not,” Mayse said. “He made his move at the 800-meter mark. That was too soon for me, so I waited. When he got to the hill, he was dead.”
He was more concerned with the timing clock.
“I couldn’t see the seconds when I looked at it as I was coming in,” he said. “I saw 15 on the minutes and I thought I have got to get going (finish under 16 minutes).”
Mayse is primed for the postseason, starting with Saturday’s GWOC race at Centerville.
“I think top five would be a good goal, but that depends on the draw,” Mayse said. “This course is good preparation for the GWOC. This year it is at Centerville — it is loops and hills just like this course. It has two loops instead of one, but they are pretty similar.”
Mayse led Piqua to a fifth-place finish, as Miamisburg swept the boys and girls team titles.
Rounding out Piqua’s top seven runners were Isaiah Garber, 28, 18:16; Dante Kemp, 29, 18:19; Bradley McPherson, 43, 19:15; Cameron Brown, 47, 19:26; Austin Harshman, 51, 19:29; and Cameron LeRay, 64, 20:23.
The Piqua girls had another strong showing, finishing second out of four teams.
Miamisburg had the first nine finishers and 11 of the first 12 to win with a perfect score of 15.
Piqua was second with 57, followed by Wayne and Hamilton.
Piqua’s top seven included Kenna Bell, 13, 22:00; Meredith Butt, 16, 22:08; Juliya Hsiang, 20, 22:39; Lily Stewart, 21, 22:43; Gabbie Knouff, 32, 23:49; Liz Cox, 34, 24:08; and Hannah VanGorden, 37, 24:21.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.