The sport of long distance running can be traced back to the Old Testament when messengers would run miles to deliver various announcements.
One long distance runner from Boardman recently delivered a message through his running prowess that certainly was of Biblical proportions. That message was that Boardman senior Mark Hadley is simply the best distance runner in the state.
Last week, Hadley was honored as the Ohio Gatorade Boys XC runner of the year. To earn that title, Hadley won the state championship with a time of 15:21.37. He also placed 18th at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championship, finished the season undefeated, was named first team All-State for the third time and set a course record at the Boardman Spartan Invitational with a time of 15:07.8.
"Mark has left a legacy here at Boardman that will forever be remembered," said Boardman track head coach John Phillips in an email. "To be the best in the state and a finalist for best in the nation is so rare. I hope the Boardman community appreciates all that Mark has done to represent Boardman in a class manner."
Hadley carries a 4.0 GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society, the Link Crew, the Spartan Spirit Crew and volunteers in the community. The ability to do so well in academics and athletics comes naturally to Hadley according to his coach.
"He is the true definition of a student-athlete," Phillips said. "He is a focused competitor who studies like no other athlete I've ever coached.
"Mark is very humble," Phillips said. "What sets Mark apart is he is so team oriented. He gets more joy out of seeing his teammates excel than himself. All of the awards and attention are things he no doubt deserves, but are things he doesn't flaunt."
That attention is being paid to Hadley by more than just local coaches as well.
"Mark Hadley was hands down the most dominating runner in the state of Ohio this year," said Solon head track coach Brian Sabol. "His success was well deserved."
According to Phillips, Hadley is the greatest distance runner in the school's history and the best in this area in at least the past four decades.
"It has been an honor and blessing to have been his coach," Phillips said.