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Hardesty and Neal represent RVHS at state cross country meet

| November 7, 2016
Sawyer Neal and Michael Hardesty advanced out of the regional cross country meet to represent the Black Bears at the state meet on Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Contributed | Beacon

Sawyer Neal and Michael Hardesty advanced out of the regional cross country meet to represent the Black Bears at the state meet on Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. Contributed | Beacon

COSHOCTON – Sawyer Neal and Michael Hardesty might have been the only River View Black Bears at the state cross country meet, but their teammates weren’t far from their minds.

“We are a family, not just a team,” Hardesty said.

They worked hard all summer and throughout the season to push each other to do their best and Neal said at state they were running for their teammates.

“We gave it our all every single week for our brothers and gave it our best at state for them,” he said. “We wouldn’t have been there without them because as individuals we help each other out.”

The state cross country meet was held Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron and the team as a whole just missed qualifying. They came in eighth at regionals and the top six teams were able to advance to state.

This was Neal’s first trip to state and Hardesty’s second.

“It’s amazing being there because of the level of competition,” Hardesty said.

Neal said he was a little nervous for state, but still excited.

“You know you are running with the fastest kids in the state,” he said.

One of the many things the pair has learned from cross country is that you can’t let circumstances get in your way.

“At regionals where we qualified for state, I lost my shoe in the first 800 meters and at Tiffin I lost it in the first 200 meters and it wasn’t because they were untied either,” Neal said. “People in front of me fell and I jumped over top of them and people behind me got their spikes caught on my shoe. You can’t stop to grab a shoe because that would slow you down. You can’t change a circumstance like that so you can’t let it affect your team.”

Hardesty agreed with Neal.

“If you don’t give your best you can’t expect others to,” Hardesty said. “If you expect the best you give the best.”

Coach Gwenna Neal said the team spent a lot of time together this summer where they not only trained, but shaped their outlook for the season.

“They have shared leadership and shared responsibility,” Coach Neal said.

Sawyer explained that there were no captains of the team.

“There were no captains and no one to blame if we didn’t get what we expected out of a race,” he said. “We shared the responsibility for the team.”

Both Sawyer and Hardesty love the competition of cross county and the bond the team shares. Hardesty also said it’s a great workout for your whole body.

“We all have a bond and I feel very close to them and want to watch over them,” Coach Neal said. “I try to give them the most opportunities they can to be successful. They are all willing, coachable and self-disciplined. There is a lot of self sacrifice that comes with this sport and they embrace it and work together. I look forward to this part of my day (practice) all day long and they do too. It’s always emotional when the season comes to a close.”

Sawyer finished 47th with a time of 16:38.3 and Hardesty came in 57th at 16:45.4. The boys competed against a field of 186 so they finished in the very respectable top third of the Division II race. Neal was 1:22.3 off the first place pace while Hardesty was a mere few seconds behind that at 1:29.4 from first place.

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Category: High School, Sports

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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