Running, walking, or biking, Buchanan stays in shape

J. Patrick Eaken

If you see Woodmore junior C.J. Buchanan delivering papers in your Elmore or Oak Harbor neighborhood, please give him a nice carrier tip.

Buchanan, the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, walks those villages every week, distributing 750 Suburban Press newspapers on his two routes in Elmore and third in Oak Harbor for Press distribution manager Jordan Szozda. He also delivered the Toledo Blade for a period.

Last week, Buchanan qualified for the Division III state cross country meet at Fortress Obetz in suburban Obetz, Ohio, south of Columbus. He says delivering newspapers for nearly four years has helped with his conditioning.

“It just keeps the muscles loose but not really working them,” Buchanan said.

He began running on his own five years ago, saying it was “something that he just started” following an example his grandparents set. He typically runs about 60 miles per week and bikes another 30 miles per day.

At the state meet, he finished in 16:51.4, good for 53rd place out of 170 runners, which put him well into the upper half. 

However, he was not happy with his performance and wishes he was not “taking it too easy the last few weeks” before the state meet. Woodmore coach Lacy Seamans says that is a good thing and she heard similar comments from the Woodmore girls runners, who qualified for state as a team.

“I think they all had higher goals for themselves, but that is always a good thing to shoot for,” Seamans said. “Everybody improved from last year team-wise — the (girls) team was one spot better and (senior) Ava (Beam) getting All-Ohio was definitely a highlight, and C.J. getting that first state appearance and kind of getting those jitters out of the way was a good thing.”

Buchanan’s personal record time this year was 16:08.13 at the Lakota Invitational.

“I had a strong first mile and was able to keep it (his pace) even after that,” Buchanan said.

 Buchanan’s goal is to get under 16 minutes. At the state meet, only six runners got under 16 minutes with Fredericktown’s Thomas Caputo winning the individual title in 15:31.5. Seamans says with his work ethic and senior year remaining, he has a shot.

“Both of them (Beam and Buchanan) are very hard workers,” Seamans said. “C.J., a lot of the time, it’s me trying to make sure that he’s not doing too much. He’s motivated to hit his goals and he was really hoping to be in the 15:50 area and was only about eight seconds off (16 minutes), and he’s already talking about his goals for track season and what he wants to do there. 

“Hopefully, he takes a small break like we’ve been planning. He is just constantly on the go and had a big improvement this year, which with boys you typically see as they get older.”

To qualify for state, Buchanan finished 14th in 16:52.5 during the regional meet at Tiffin’s Hedges Boyer Park. At the district meet at Owens Community College’s Findlay campus, he finished sixth out of 102 runners in 17:19.93 in poor weather conditions that saw only three runners break 17 minutes.

Buchanan has been setting and breaking his own school records all season. Buchanan won the Northern Buckeye Conference individual championship, finishing in 16:59 and beating out Eastwood junior Cory Jay (17:07) by eight seconds. Placing first had been the norm for Buchanan this year and he often was pacing by himself towards the end of races, until the regionals and state meet where he had to learn to deal with the physical contact that sometimes goes with it.

In the opening invitational at Seneca East, Buchanan improved his time by over 40 seconds even in sloppy conditions. 

At Columbus Grove, Buchanan not only set a personal record, he set a school record. He followed with individual championships at the NBC Jamborees 1 and 2, he won individual races at the Tiffin Columbian Carnival, and at the Lakota Invitational he set a school record again, finishing in 16:08.13.

“Although he’s gone faster in practice, C.J. came through the first two splits faster than his official track PRs and didn’t slow down as a late challenger helped push him across the line a whopping 13 seconds under the previous record he shared with Montana (Garcia),” Seamans said. 

He won a difficult race in humid conditions at Liberty Center and on a chilly morning at the Old Fort Invite, he won the boys race by 50 seconds.

Buchanan then finished second at the Fostoria Invitational, but Seamans said that prepared him well for the NBC meet because it was the same course. The Wildcats boys team took fifth against mostly Division II schools at the Fostoria. meet.




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