Boardman-based race-walker Michael Mannozzi, of Erskine Ave., fell short in his bid last weekend to gain a berth on the USA national team, placing fifth among American competitors in the USA Track and Field Associations 50K (31.1 miles) national championships held in Coconut Grove, Fla.
Mannozzi needed a time of 4:35 to gain a bid on the team, but finished the race at 5:25.49, good for ninth place overall. Hot weather (80-degree temperatures and 70-degree humidity) affected his showing, as three times he was forced to stop and regain his strength to finish the race.
Only American to post a qualifying time in the race was Patrick Stroupe who finished in a time of 4:25.06. Luis Lopez of Puerto Rico was the top finisher with a time of 4:23.12.
“I did my very best and finished although the medical staff recommended that I consider stepping off 47 kilometers into the race. They later told me that they noticed I was pale and had stopped sweating. I just noticed that I was getting cold chills. I simply told them to let me finish, and when I felt like was going to collapse, I sat down on the course and regained faith and mental fortitude to get back up and continue on the death march the race had become for all competitors towards the end until I crossed the finish line,” Mannozzi said of the race.
“It was uncharacteristically hot this time of year for south Florida, but that is what we all had to face.”.
Mannozzi was the 9th overall finisher (including competitors from Mexico (an Olympian), Canada, and Puerto Rico.
“I was fifth overall for USA men, even with the trouble I had endured. In 2012 , I had finished ninth in the USA Olympic Trials when I raced and finished just a day out of the hospital with the flu,” Mannozzi said.
The 27-year-old race-walker said his future plans include first recovering from last weekend’s 50K.
“Then, I will train, but I will not be in top racing form for at least 6-to-8 weeks minimum.
“I will focus on getting faster since all the distance training and racing this fall made for a great base of miles to work with, so that I can now focus on getting faster,” Mannozzi said.
His next big target will be the 2014 World Cup trials for the 20k team set for Sun., Mar. 30, 2014 in New Jersey.
“This is my first opportunity to get faster and to try for a spot on my first ever World Cup Team. I not only discussed my plan of action with coach Mike Rohl (who was just awarded NCAA D-2 Coach of the Year, and honorary coach Bob Grey, but I also had the privilege of receiving words of wisdom from two-time Olympian Tim Seaman, who is considered the rock star of USA race walking.
Mannozzi will be in Indianapolis at the USA Track and Field annual convention this weekend.