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Spartans’ Dunham to run at Walsh

BOARDMAN — Mark Hadley’s collegiate distance running path was far from one road. It veered off from his initial venture at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

The 2013 Division I boys state cross country champion began there, but the Boardman High School graduate ended his career about an hour west of home at Walsh University in North Canton.

The Cavaliers boast a successful cross country program. They finished fourth at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional on Saturday and were selected as an at-large bid for the nationals in California. This is the team’s fourth trip in five years to nationals.

Hadley has an award named after him in the Boardman cross country program. Boardman senior Mitchel Dunham, who earlier this week signed his National Letter of Intent to go to Walsh for cross country and track and field, received the award from Hadley himself at the team’s annual banquet on Tuesday.

Hadley remembers running for Walsh coach Rob Mizicko, who the former Boardman state champion remembers has a similar coaching style to Spartans boys coach John Phillips.

Dunham ended his Ohio High School Athletic Association cross country season with a top-20 finish at the state meet in early November.

“Unfortunately I had kind of a windy road to Walsh,” Hadley said. “To be able to impart my wisdom and show he doesn’t have to go to a D-I school just because he’s one of the best runners in the area. He can go to a program that caters to his strengths and that’s closer to home.

“Hopefully it’ll allow him to flourish as a collegiate runner. I think he’s positioned better than I am. His training was a lot more conservative than I was in high school. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do on the next level. I think he has a ton of potential.”

Dunham looks forward to the challenge.

“He said coach Mizicko is a great guy,” Dunham said. “I should be excited looking to the future. He thinks I have a lot of potential to run well under coach Mizicko.”

Dunham will major in cinematography with a minor in business at Walsh. He had contact with John Carroll, Tiffin and Canisius, but the decision came down to Walsh and Youngstown State, where former Boardman runner and Hadley’s teammate, Alan Burns, has had plenty of success running for the Penguins.

“It was such a hard decision because both had so much to offer,” Dunham said. “It was nice to know another Boardman alumni has run there (Walsh) and done really well. It was the same with Alan Burns being there (YSU). The fact they were so well taken care of at either school. It kind of balanced out a little bit.”