If the Ohio High School Athletic Association someday approves race walking as an official event in track, it won’t be soon enough for Sean Glaze to compete for a state title.
Glaze, a junior-to-be at Greenon High School, will have to settle for being a national champion.
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Glaze captured his second race walking national junior title by winning the 3,000-meter event at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor on Saturday in Greensboro, N.C. Glaze won in 14 minutes, 24.95 seconds for a 2.1 second victory over Georgia’s Jordan Crawford.
Glaze won the New Balance Nationals Indoor 1-mile championship held in New York in March with a time of 7:07.5.
“It’s pretty insane,” Glaze said of his second championship. “I was not prepared at all for that race because I only did a few workouts before. Going in as the favorite is more stressful because you’re expected to win. At the Indoor nobody even heard of me.”
Glaze is a relative newcomer to the sport after picking it up as a freshman in the winter of 2016. He was looking for something to keep him shape between cross country and track seasons and decided to train with fellow national champion and Greenon graduate Cameron Haught.
The duo worked out at Wright State University’s indoor track. While Haught was setting a blistering pace during his 50-minute workouts, Glaze’s early conditioning under the tutelage of Greenon cross country coach Eric Brickson consisted of five minutes of race walking and five minutes of regular walking.
“At that time I couldn’t even race walk for more than 10 minutes at a time,” Glaze said. “When I started out I was pretty terrible.
“Cameron taught me everything I know about race walking. It took me a full year to get to the point I was fluid.”
It was that form which helped Glaze win his first national title in March. Crawford, who finished second to Glaze on Saturday, trailed again the majority of that 1-mile race. On the backstretch during the final lap Crawford increased his pace. More than one official ruled Crawford broke race walk form – basically breaking into a run – and was disqualified. Though Glaze led practically the entire race, he would have preferred to win the title on the track.
On Saturday he did.
“He’s very smooth, very efficient,” Brickson said of Glaze’s form. “There’s not a lot of extraneous movement below the hips. He’s got good form and it’s one of those sports where good form is super important.”
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In race walking, competitors are required to maintain contact with the ground at all times. The lead leg must be straight when it makes contact with the ground and must remain straight until the leg passes under the body.
The win capped an eventful high school running and walking season for Glaze, who thanked parents Lori and Rob for shuttling him to his numerous in- and out-of-state events. In the fall he helped the Greenon cross country team qualify for the state championships for the first time in program history. Glaze also runs the 800 and the 1,600 in track.
Glaze managed to get in three race walking practices prior to the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet. It takes about two weeks to adjust from running to walking. As soon as track season ended Glaze started working on getting comfortable race walking, where mental toughness is just as important as physical toughness.
“It’s pretty tough. If you go on five-mile run it’s no big deal, you go out and run. If you race walk five miles it’s quite a bit longer time-wise,” Glaze said. “A five-mile run would take me about 35 minutes. A five-mile walk would take me 50 minutes. Not only do you have to worry about your form the entire time, but you’re out there longer.
“If I’m adjusted to race walking already, physically (walking and running) are about the same. But mentally race walking is a lot harder.”
Glaze, who competes with the Southwest Ohio Track Club in Yellow Springs, never imagined he’d one day follow Haught’s path to a pair of national junior titles.
“(Training with Haught) I was like there is no possible way I’m doing that,” Glaze said. “No way I’m competing at the national level let alone winning.”