Even among The Vindicator’s Fall Athletes of the Year, Boardman senior cross country runner Mark Hadley has distinguished himself.
A repeat winner, Hadley, who holds a 4.0 GPA,, was one of two area cross country champions this season, joining McDonald senior Bobby Johnson. The Blue Devils also won the Division III team title.
“That was a big dream of mine for a while and to do that, I really just can’t describe it at the time,” said Hadley, who finished sixth at the state meet a year ago and ran through the season without losing a race. “It took a long time for it to sink in.”
He is also the only member to have a street sign in his honor, presented to him upon the team’s return from the state meet in Hebron.
“Mr. [Brad] Calhoun, one of the [Boardman trustees] has been a great supporter of us throughout the season and he put together a police escort going to state for us, which was awesome,” Hadley said. “We do have other street signs at the school, but just to get that is a huge honor.”
Hadley’s final high school performance, 15:10.63, was the best mark in 12 years at the state meet. The Spartans finished fourth in the team standings.
Schools from across the country kept the family phone ringing off the hook.
In October, Hadley put an end to the suspense when the prospective exercise science major chose Furman University in South Carolina.
“I never really heard of [Furman] actually until after the state [track and field] two-mile this year,” he said. “Just going there is great opportunity for me to go somewhere that I’d never even heard of. It had to be something that caught my attention. When I went on the visit there, I just knew it was the right fit for me.
Here’s hoping the Greenville, S.C., campus has room for one more street sign.