Genoa does it once again — this time on the track

J. Patrick Eaken

Two weeks ago, Genoa track coach Luke Hodulik hosted a summer field event meet that drew 56 athletes from as far away as southern Indiana, Chicago, and Flint, Michigan.
The event was successful despite a coronavirus pandemic that is threatening to put a halt or limit to high school sports this fall. Already, the OHSAA has eliminated pre-season scrimmages for contact sports like football.
At the summer field meet, athletes who graduated in 2020 were eligible to compete, and many were grateful for the opportunity after their spring season was canceled.
Last week, Hodulik was planning on hosting another track meet, this time including only running events. Just a few days before the meet was scheduled, he was not sure if Genoa could pull it off.
Thanks to Ohio Milesplit’s website,, the running event was even bigger than the field meet event, which was Genoa Summer Fest I. The running event was, of course, named Genoa Summer Fest II. It was held under the lights, from 8-11 p.m., at Comet Stadium on Saturday night.
“This one came together in about six days,” Hodulik said. “After the huge success of the field meet last week, I was getting requests to do track events. I wanted to increase the fun and do it under the lights, and my AD Matt Routson was supportive.
“Ohio MileSplit promoted the meet, and we put out a lot of information on Twitter which helped with getting entries. But the window to do this was so small with fall sports getting ready to start. I really wasn’t sure we’d be able to get enough entries to afford a timing system and make everything official in such a short amount of time.”
Hodulik got a little help from an Otsego coach whose brainstorm ultimately helped push the event along. They decided to allow adults into the competition. Social distancing took priority, but fans did manage to spread themselves out in the grandstands.
“That’s when my good friend Justin Riffle (2019 Toledo Roadrunners Runner of the Year) suggested adding a couple of adult races. He’s well connected with the Toledo running scene, so he secured quite a bit of entries for us. He’s also the distance coach at Otsego and brought a group of kids to run.
“Nathan Howard at Eastwood brought a large group too. I really want to thank the adults who signed up to participate, because we probably wouldn’t have been able to pull off the meet in just six days for all these kids without the adults stepping up. It was a great show of unselfishness by them.”
One of the adults winning a race was Hillsdale College freshman mid-distance runner Sean Hoeft, a Genoa graduate, who took the 1600-meter adult race in 5:30.24. Hodulik says Hoeft had “a pretty stellar freshman year” running for Hillsdale.
Hodulik says summer track meets may become the new normal. That means next summer, too, if he can pull it off.
“Overall, with the field meet last week and the track meet this week, I’m amazed by the response,” Hodulik said. “Everyone did what they had to do as far as precautions, and not one person complained.
“We had over 100 kids participate — including at least 23 from the class of 2020 who got one last shot at a meet. There are so many people to thank — administrators, coaches, parents, and the kids who all stepped up to make these meets a reality. It was a lot of fun. I think we’ll do it again next year.”
Like the field event meet, Genoa and Eastwood brought a healthy field of competitors, but so did other schools like Patrick Henry, Otsego and St. Ursula. There was also a high school club team, Team Running2Win, and others who registered individually without attaching to their school.
In the high school 800 finals, five Genoa runners took third through seventh. Senior Derek Rightnowar finished third in 2:11.24 followed by senior Ross Schlatter (2:15.61), Brock Hochanadel (2:21.38), junior Evan Hoeft (2:27.23) and Nolan Weaver (2:47.95). Eastwood sophomore Justin Hefflinger was eighth (2:59.04).
In the 1600, six Comets placed, led by fifth place Rightnowar (4:58.35), sixth place Schlatter (5:02.49), seventh place Evan Hoeft (5:06.16), ninth place senior Darin Muir (5:12.55), 11th place Weaver (5:57.59) and 12th place senior Tim Mathews (6:24.6). Eastwood freshman Jimmy Russell was 13th, finishing in 6:24.85.
In the boys 3200, Eastwood junior Cory Jay placed fourth in 10:34.12, Sean Hoeft was fifth (10:55.92), Genoa senior Tyson Lesher was seventh (11:23.36) and Mathews was eighth (12:38.59).
In the boys 4x400 relay, Genoa was runner-up (3:57.06) and Eastwood fifth (4:09.48).
In the girls 1600, Genoa senior Sara Partin placed fourth (6:37.33) and Eastwood senior Jamie Lahey placed fifth (6:41.38). In the girls 3200, Eastwood freshman Haley Sponaugle placed fifth (14:095.94) and Eastwood senior Cordelia Howard was sixth (14:13.77).
Genoa Comets Summer Fest - Part II - Complete Results


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