On Saturday, Sept. 14, more than 5000 cross country runners and 380 teams will converge at Boardman High School for the 28th annual 5K Spartan Invitational Cross Country Meet, the biggest prep event of its kind in Ohio, as well as the midwest.
The meet was begun in 1976 by then Boardman cross country coach Bruce Breunig, and became a major event under the directorship of former Boardman High School Athletic Director Jim Fox. The meet is now co-managed by the Spartans girls track coach Denise Gorski, and former boys track and cross country coach, Dave Pavlansky.
The event draws major corporate sponsorship, fueled by Merrill Lynch, that has offered its support since 2007. Nike will provide additional sponsorship this year.
“As head boys track coach through 2010, and head cross country coach through 2008, I can say the support from Merrill was integral to our running teams producing All-Ohio and Nike All-American athletes, and to enhancing the experience of everyone who competed for us. We are very grateful for their involvement,” Pavlansky said.
With more than 5000 competitors, including middle school and high school harriers, the meet is expected to draw upwards of 20,000 spectators throughout the day to Boardman High School beginning with the first race that gets underway at 9:00 a.m. Competition concludes with a 3:30 p.m. middle school race.
Throughout the history of the meet, some 40 individual state champions from Ohio, Pennsylvania and as far away as Virginia, have competed in the meet.
Host Boardman has never had an individual champ, but this year could be different.
Spartan senior mark Hadley is expected to vie this year for the top spot with his arch-rival from Chardon HS in Nick Elswick.
Elswick won the meet last year, posting a time of 15:39.83. He was followed by Hadley.
Both runners are back again this year and Hadley topped Elswick’s winning time of last year by more than ten seconds at a meet held in Cuyahoga Falls last weekend. The top time ever posted at the Spartan Invitational was in 1995, 15:31.60, by Sharif Karie, of West Springfield, Va. That mark seems almost certain to fall this year.