But the 2018 cross country season has been a steady progression for St. Paul senior runner Noah Avendano, who will compete in the Division III state championships at National Trail Raceway on Saturday in Hebron.
A year ago, Avendano went from a 17:22.51 in the opening race of the season to a 16:47.8 at the Div. III regional meet in Tiffin — which qualified him for state in 2017. He had peaked at a 16:37.76 last season.
But there were no surprises this fall.
Avendano opened his season with a 17:04.62 on Aug. 26 in Attica at the Seneca East Classic. He continued a steady drop throughout the season and posted a personal-best 16:32 at the district race in Galion on Oct. 20.
“I started off slower this year than I had anticipated,” Avendano said. “But I feel like I peaked at the right time, which was districts.”
Avendano, who a year ago placed 61st at state in 17:02.9 — will have a much higher expectation both personally and statistically at this year’s race.
He placed ninth at the Tiffin regional two weeks ago in 16:41.81. Though that is nine seconds off his top time, it stands as the 20th best time among the four regionals across Div. III Ohio.
That puts him in firm position for All-Ohio honors on Saturday — based off comparable times.
“Of course there is going to be good competition, so I’ll have plenty of people around me to compete with,” Avendano said. “but I’m ready to give it my all one last time, so the goal is a new PR — and hopefully the school record — so around 16:20 is the goal.”
Like everyone else, Avendano had to wait one week for his state run, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday. Because of the heavy rains last week, the championships were postponed by one week. At one point last Friday, the finish line was completely under water in Hebron.
Either way, it will still likely make for a wet and muddy course with the additional rain and overcast weather that has followed.
“If the course was that bad, I’m OK with the delay,” Avendano said. “Obviously I had been training for a race last Saturday, so I raced with some friends so I wouldn’t break routine. This week’s practice will be the same as last week.
“I hadn’t planned anything else, so it just gave me an extra week of practice,” he added. “There are not many concerns with the course on my end, because I’m used to muddy courses at this point.”