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Boardman senior runner Bero makes adjustments

Staff photo / John Vargo Boardman’s Frank Bero finishes Saturday’s Division I boys second section of racing at the Spartan Invitational at his Boardman High School course.

BOARDMAN — Frank Bero has made adjustments as we all have in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Boardman High School senior distance runner spent most of his junior season running alongside current Walsh University freshman Mitchel Dunham.

The pair wore headbands and you could easily spot them in their white running uniforms with a crimson spartan logo embossed on the chests of their outfits.

Bero misses his running partner this season. The leadership reigns have been bequeathed to the current Boardman senior.

He’s made the adjustments by training hard in the offseason and getting in his mileage, including some strength training. It’s what elite runners do to prepare for the first race.

Things have changed in 2020 with mask wearing and social distancing. Bero’s headband looks a bit different this year. He said it’s quite useful.

“Last year was a solid, cloth headband,” said Bero, who took third in Saturday’s Division I boys Section B race Saturday at the Spartan Invitational. “Because of COVID I got one of those pull-down masks. I come off the course I don’t have to worry about finding my mask. It’s my headband. It’s a lot easier that way.”

It’s the adjustment he made after running 16:13.9 on Saturday and crossing the finish line with his arms extended.

“I’m looking forward to running faster times and I’m happy with a third-place finish,” Bero said.

This year Bero has embraced his leadership role, something he didn’t have last year.

Boardman coach John Phillips said Bero is taking that role seriously.

“He’s embraced it and done well with it,” Phillips said.

Saturday, Bero went hard the entire race, something that he hasn’t done up to this point.

“That’s a good thing,” Phillips said. “You can always gain something every time you run. He learned something today.”

Bero wants to get close to Dunham’s mark or surpass that. Phillips said Bero’s personal-best time is 16:02, which puts him 11th all-time in school history.

Bero needs to cut 32 seconds off his time to tie Dunham and 33 to pass him.

“He’s got two months to do that and he’s focused on that,” Phillips said. “We’ll see if it happens. He takes his workouts seriously. He takes his races seriously.”

It was a serious race on Saturday, facing one of the state’s best in Uniontown Lake’s Nathan Moore, who won Section B in 15:48.0.

Running against the state’s best is a challenge Boardman runners have done throughout the years.

“That’s the backbone of our program — any place, any where, any time, we’ll go and run,” Phillips said.

Bero, who has bounced back from a pulled hamstring in his right leg when the season began, admits this season has been hard without Dunham.

“He’s been my mentor since freshman year,” Bero said of Dunham. “I lack a bit of confidence, but the training the coaches have been doing, it’s really instilled confidence in my training. I’ve been able to go out and perform half decent or well races. I’m just happy with the coaching staff to form my way of running.

“That builds a lot of confidence in my racing.”

He’s learning from his competitors, how to be a better runner himself. Bero hopes to finish as an All-Ohio runner this season or even finish in the top 10 in Division I state meet.

“That’s what me and my coach have been talking about,” Bero said. “Spartan Invitational really marks the start of our hard training. Well see how things progress from there.”

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