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Slabach finishes junior season on high note at state

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes South Range junior Emmitt Slabach battles for position during the Division II 1600. He earned sixth at 4:19.92.

DAYTON – It’s always a little tricky to really battle after being trapped in the middle of the pack during a distance event, but Emmitt Slabach didn’t let the first lap change his race. Remaining patient, he kicked in into high gear late to place sixth in the Division II boys 1600, clocking a time of 4:19.92 on Saturday at Welcome Stadium on Saturday.

The South Range junior was more than happy to have some hardware to take back home.

“I usually like to just be patient until the last lap to start making moves, but today, it went out way too fast. I had to work in the middle of the race more than I usually do, but I didn’t PR today but I still ran a 4:19, just off my PR,” Slabach said. “It felt pretty good, just that finish was real hard. I got out-kicked by like two kids, but I’m happy with my performance.

“Usually I would wait longer, but I got boxed in at the end of the first lap, so I had to start making up some ground on the second lap. I started working my way up to the front of the pack on the second and third lap, and then I really gave it all I had in the fourth lap to finish.”

Last year, Slabach failed to make it out of the district round of competition, making his run to Dayton an opportunity that he appreciated even more.

“I really worked hard for it, I really came a long way from last year. It’s very different, I didn’t really know what I had in me until at districts (this year) I ran a big PR and then I knew I had a chance to finish real high in the state,” Slabach said. “Once I knew I had the chance, I just started working really hard. Just passing people makes me feel better, I feel a lot stronger, I think just giving it a little go just helps.”

Slabach has been competing since joining the cross county squad in the seventh grade, trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, Ervin, who ran collegiately at Malone University in Canton.

Having that running background and role model is one detail that Slabach gives credit toward.

“I’m really honored, at districts I broke his mile time from high school, so it really helped push me to know I had a lot more in me and it was great,” Slabach said. “He’s always here supporting me, he comes to my meets like wherever they are, he’s always been pushing me to be the best I can be.”

Athletically, South Range has been a school district that has seen plenty of success in a variety of sports over the past several years. Slabach is pleased to play his role and represent his school in front of thousands of fans in Dayton.

“Everyone at my school, they’re all great people, they all support me, I help support them in their sports, so it just feels great to be here and support my teammates,” Slabach added. “This helps me know that I’m one of the top runners and that I can compete with anyone in the state. It helps me know that I have to keep working at it and that I can be real great next year.”

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