Ethan Adams and Garrett Gemmaka have been best friends since they started running cross country together in junior high. So it’s fitting they enter the biggest race of their high school careers, and perhaps their final one, together.
Adams and Gemmaka, both seniors at Tecumseh High School, know they face a challenging Division I field at the regional championships Saturday on the Troy levee. Seven teams ranked among the top 20 in the D-I state poll will be there. Only the top 20 runners overall qualify for next week’s state championships in Hebron.
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Just like they’ve done through high school, Adams and Gemmaka plan to stick together.
“Just try to stay with each other and make something happen,” Adams said. “Shock the world.”
Tecumseh junior Kylee Mastin will compete in the D-I girls race, which is even more loaded. The top four teams in the state run in her region Saturday.
“It’s a good experience to race against the Division I teams because they’re really fast and they make us faster,” said Mastin, who ran a 21:01.6 to finished 93rd out of 137 runners at last year’s regional meet. “It’s pretty challenging but we’re used to it now. … I always go out pretty hard but I’m going to try and run a little faster Saturday.”
Tecumseh coach Dan Vaughan estimates Adams and Gemmaka need to run 16:20 or faster to be in contention for state. Their personal records are 16:25.5 for Gemmaka and 16:25.9 for Adams, both set at the Central Buckeye Conference meet and both eclipsing the school record. Mastin needs to be around 19 minutes. Her PR is 19:16.
“All three of those kids, anything we’ve watched them do over the last few years I’m not amazed anymore. All three are really good competitors,” Vaughan said. “They will have to run a PR to even entertain the idea of getting out. They are all capable of it.”
This will be the first regional meet for Adams and Gemmaka. Last season before district, Adams was working his way back from a sprained ankle and missed qualifying by 1.28 seconds. Gemmaka was also banged up with a pair if injuries. Now healthy, the duo are excited to see what they can do Saturday.
“It’s been very frustrating and qualifying for regional this year was a relief, especially being my senior year,” Gemmaka said. “You want to make it a special. … It’s coming to an end soon and it’s finally going to hit you. Hopefully we can make something happen.”
“He’s probably the best teammate I’ve ever had” Adams said of Gemmaka. “And to have someone who runs just as fast as you, it really helps a lot. Through out the season we’ve been running off each other and pacing each other. He’s been really great.”
Gemmaka said he knows a few of Beavercreek’s runners and his plan is to stay with them in the early going. All three of the Arrows runners plan to take a few chances they wouldn’t normally take during a meet whether it’s going out faster, pushing harder the second mile or starting their final kick sooner. That’s what a shot at state can do.
“I’m definitely hoping to get to state, but that’s going to take a lot of hard work and grit,” Adams said. “Maybe be a little more aggressive. Maybe do what I’ve done all year and hope for a surprise. See if all the training has paid off.”