September 20, 2014

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Boys cross country 2014: Black River’s Hawley motivated after success last year

Black River’s Tanner Hawley is looking to repeat as a state qualifier this year. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Black River’s Tanner Hawley is looking to repeat as a state qualifier this year. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Tanner Hawley handled the pressure of his first state cross country meet like a pro. Nervous and a bit sleep-deprived, the Black River runner didn’t allow the nerves to rule the day — no more than the stress of chip shot or putt as a member of the varsity golf team.

Hawley finished 39th out of 146 runners for Division III boys race in 16:59.42. He rallied very well over the final two miles, moving up from 56th place at the mile (5:12.73) and 47th at two miles (10:49.44).

“It was an awesome experience,” said Hawley after the race. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. Last year I came to watch state and didn’t believe I’d have a shot.”

Hawley’s goal this season is to become Black River’s first two-time state qualifier since Justin Ross (1996, ‘98).

“I really want to make it last year, but just didn’t know for sure if I could do it,” said Hawley. “Conference, districts and regionals, my times dropped a lot more than I thought they would.”

Pirate coach Adam Laskos was impressed how well Hawley handled the high-stakes race at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.

“Tanner ran the race with a mental strength,” said Laskos. “I really appreciate how he handled himself. He didn’t let his nerves get to him. Tanner just went out and he just raced. That’s just one of his strengths. He just went out and did it.”

Hawley finished fourth at the 2013 PAC championships in 17:12, ninth at the Medina District in 18:02.5 and 16th at the Boardman Regional in 16:55.22.

“It’s part of his personality,” said Laskos. “He’s a fun-loving type kid. He loves to work out and be serious with his workouts, but he’s also laid back. He likes to joke around and he likes to laugh. He has a good balance. Tanner’s serious and competitive on one end, but he also wants to have fun and enjoy it. That balance for him was his strength. I hope to see that continue to grow.”

Hawley held off Rootstown senior William Morgan (17th, 16:56.43) by 1.19 seconds at Boardman for the final qualifying berth at the regional.

“It was all about the mental stage of running,” said Hawley. “Either I was going to very bad or it was all going to come together. My coach prepared me well late in the season and that put me over the top.

“I feel good about (how I handled) state meet. At the beginning of the race I was stopped and couldn’t get out anywhere. It was a different race from any race that I’ve ever experienced. The first couple miles were slow before I was able to open up a bit and I was able to catch a lot people.”

Hawley understands that the next step is very daunting as he sets a high bar for himself.

“My goal is to make the podium at state (top 16),” said Hawley. “I would like to finish in the top 10. It’s a high goal but I know I can do it now.”

It will be quite a challenge, but Hawley appears up to task. He’s averaging about 40 miles a week while balances his workload with varsity golf and his part-time landscaping business.

Not only just a talented runner, Hawley’s also blossomed at golf.

He came on well late last season for the varsity golf team. Hawley averaged 45.7 for his final five matches and 50.1 overall. He opened this season on August 6 with a career-low 5-over par 76 at the Simonson Construction Invitational in Ashland

Hawley pulled a tough double on August 19. Hawley carded 46 in a golf match versus Lutheran West at Deer Pass in Westfield Center. He then had to hustle to get to the Lorain County Equestrian Center in LaGrange by 5:40 p.m. for the Keystone Icebreaker Cross Country meet.

Hawley made it to the Keystone meet from the golf match with about five minutes to spare and finished fourth in 17:32.29.

“He’s an exciting kid,” said Laskos. “His regional race last year was something to watch. He stuck right there with the top 16. He went out and kept going. He didn’t back down.”

Contact Paul Heyse at 440-329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.

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