LAKE TWP. Nathan Moore racked up a hat trick in the first round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association cross country postseason.
Now, the Lake junior has to carry that momentum on to the regional meet as the level of competition rises. With a time of 15:59.4, Moore was the only runner to finish under 16 minutes in the Canton Division I district meet at GlenOak and did so by executing a well-crafted race plan.
"The plan coming in run was to with everyone in top pack and then somewhere between mile one and mile two to make a move," Moore said.
Lake head coach Jeff Wertman noted that the final edition of the race plan looked a bit different than the first draft, as Moore didn't feel 100 percent mid-week, causing he and his coach to tweak their approach.
"Nathan didn't feel good around Tuesday, so we backed off during week and changed the race plan from hammer it from the get go to sit back, relax and go for it maybe a mile and a half in," Wertman said.
That approach worked as Moore was able to best GlenOak freshman Tommy Rice by nearly eight seconds to win his third straight district title on Rice's home course.
With teammate Ian Clevinger the next closest Lake runner in 17th place, Moore spent most of the race surrounded by Federal League rivals and the top runners from schools such as Louisville, Green and Cuyahoga Falls.
He was able to separate himself from a pack that included Rice, Louisville sophomore Bobby Ganser and GlenOak senior Cordell Floyd with his mid-race push, similar to the pushes he's used to win races all season long.
"To me it just feels like running with a bunch of guys who, if you can make hard move, it's going to be hard for them to respond to, and just pulling away if you commit to that move," Moore said.
He noted that his father ran for Lake in high school and both his father and grandfather have run recreationally, so the sport is in the family. That made sharing the triumph with his family – and his team – even more special as he and Clevinger advance to the Boardman regional meet.
Coming off a ninth-place finish at the state meet as a sophomore, Moore knows what it takes to reach Columbus. He was 11th at Boardman last season, when he was the only sophomore to crack the top 11. He's aiming for a better finish this time around and according to Wertman, there is a plan for how to attack a course coach and runner know well from previous meets there.
"We have some spots on the course that historically have been a good place to make moves, so that (planning) will go on earlier in the week," Wertman said. "It will probably be similar to spots we made some moves at the Boardman Invitational."
He noted that sometimes the plan is adapted on the fly when he spots Moore on the course and the junior flashes him a thumbs up to let him know how he's feeling. It's also vital not to underestimate any rivals, Wertman said, based on how they ran against the Blue Streaks earlier in the season because sometimes runners peak at the end of the season and can shave valuable seconds off their time in the postseason.
For Moore, the ultimate mission is earning a shot to shave seconds from the 16:16.3 mark he posted at the state meet last year and to try to rise up the rankings at National Trail Raceway in Hebron next weekend. While the regional meet is next on the agenda and can't be overlooked, getting back to the state meet has driven Moore all season long.
"That's definitely been my main priority ... last year finishing ninth, I didn't race as well as i wanted," Moore said.
He's one step from getting to chase redemption and see if he has what it takes to top the podium against Ohio's best in the biggest race of the season - a chance he doesn't plan to take for granted.
Richards, Blue Streaks race on
Lake sophomore Savanna Richards matched Moore's district title with one of her own, running a time of 18:15.8 to capture the top spot in the girls race at GlenOak. Teammate Alex Bauer was fourth and junior Anika Berrios was 11th as the girls team ranked third overall to advance to the Boardman regional as a group.