Their paths rarely cross, but Vermilion senior Nate Cremean and Amherst junior Kyle Lowry have some things in common. The two area cross country standouts are on a mission: Qualify their teams to regionals, and perhaps beyond.
Injuries stopped Vermilion in 2006 from earning a regional berth. A little bad luck was the difference for Amherst, which was fifth at districts and missed advancing by 10 points. The Sailors still managed to qualify Cremean, Nate Rodriguez and Brett Freeman as individuals in Division I. Ditto for Lowry and teammate Gary Haglund.
Cremean ran the race of his life at the Tiffin regional meet. He capped off a great final 800 meters and finished seventh in 17:01 to qualify to Columbus. Things soured for Lowry, who was 18th at the mile mark at Tiffin but then tightened up and faded to 51st (18:12). It was frustrating because it was a stark contrast from his winning time of 16:26 — a season best — on Sept. 30 at the Vermilion Invitational, defeating Cremean by 16 seconds. That same time, albeit a different course, would have won the regional championship.
It’s a new season again for both runners. Their first big race of the season was Saturday’s Avon Lake Earlybird Invitational at Lorain County Community College. Last year, Lowry finished fifth in the maroon race in 16:33, and Cremean was second in the gold division in 17:07.
Lowry is coming off an outstanding track season — he finished sixth in the 3,200-meter run at the Division I regional meet with a time of 9:41.47.
Lowry’s training was handicapped somewhat in July due to wisdom teeth extraction and a strained right foot. He’s now back training at 100 percent.
“The key is going to be staying injury-free,” said Lowry, who stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 125 pounds. “I’m just going to try to be smart with what I do and how I race.
“The regional cross country meet was a disappointment, but it was a learning experience. The track regional this spring in the 3,200, I learned that I could hang with those top guys. I was nowhere close to Brunswick’s Cory McGoldrick — second at 16:37 — at regionals in cross country, but he barely beat me — fifth in 9:40.57 — in the regional finals in track. It was a confidence booster.”
Lowry didn’t pull any punches as he laid out his goals for the season.
“Individually, I really want to win conference and qualify to state,” said Lowry, who has a 3.75 GPA. “The regional placement doesn’t really matter as long as a I qualify (to Columbus).”
Seniors Ben Kildow and Kevin Harroff, along with freshmen Miles Pittak and Kyle Hill are expected to join Lowry and Haglund on the Amherst varsity.
“He’s just a very competitive kid,” said Amherst boys coach Scott Snyder. “He’s always been that way. He’s raced like an experienced veteran since his freshman year.
“When the gun goes off, he’s a whole different personality. He’s one of the smartest racers I’ve ever coached. He’s always able to get out clean. That’s one of the big pluses for him.”
Tight hamstrings hampered Cremean at last year’s state meet and he finished 42nd in 16:52. It was a disappointment because he knew he had a better race left in his tank.
He’s hoping to atone for it this year.
“I’ve felt strong this summer,” said Cremean, 5-10 and 150 pounds. “My upper body strength is definitely improved. I’ve been doing more weight training. I’ve been lifting three days a week. I did some weight training my junior year, but it tapered off.”
Cremean’s weight-training sessions, which include push-ups and sit-ups, are about 1 to 2 hours in length. The workouts were designed by a coach at the U.S. Naval Academy when Cremean attended a cross country camp there in 2006.
Cremean lifts mainly alone at home.
“My mileage has fluctuated a lot this summer,” said Cremean. “Mainly because I’ve focused more on speed. I’m averaging between 45-50 miles per week.”
Cremean knows he’s got to make the most of it since it’s his senior year.
“My goal is to get there again and make something of it,” said Cremean, who has a 4.05 GPA. “I’d like to take my team along. That would be a first in school history.”
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or email@example.com.