Athletes of the Week Dec. 6

December 6, 2019
Gary Hayes

A soccer guy and coach of unified track, the first two words uttered at the mention of his name are natural athlete followed by great kid. Pressed into the starting lineup at 182 and giving up 15 pounds, Gary battled Brandon Tice of Lake Forest for three periods before winning 6-5. “I had to eat and drink all day to gain three pounds so I could make minimum weight,” Gary said. Early in the match, Tice shot on Hayes, missed and tripped, and the athlete pounced on him like a cat on a mouse running across the kitchen floor. And then it was on like Donkey Kong, but Gary stayed locked in the moment to secure a win in an exhausting match – just to watch it. Gary wrestled for Beacon Middle School. He was JV last year, posting a 15-10 record with seven pins. “Gary works hard in the practice room,” said coach Chris Mattioni. “He is a good student who takes honors classes. He was undersized, weighed in slightly over 160 to make him eligible to wrestle at 182.”

Leo Hennigan

Leo often dresses like a neon chicken when he runs races, and he’s all about the banter, talking Washington and Maryland sports before you get a chance to say “what’s up my neon Peep?” Leo turned 73 during the Thanksgiving Day Gabby Gobble, running 42:08, then on Saturday, he ran the Huffin’ for Pumpkin Pie 5K in 43:10. “Leo is just a great guy, like Jules Woodall,” said Races2Run’s Wayne Kursh. “It’s guys like him that keep the running community going.” Leo ran 41:13 at the Prader-Willi 5K in Milton Nov. 17 and 44:16 at the Sea Witch 5K Oct. 17. Leo is relentlessly positive but not obsessive about running all races. If he was tossed into the Grand Canyon, he’d fall at 14:20 a mile, which would give his chute time to open. 

Jules Woodall

Jules is in his 70s and runs in the mid 20s. On Saturday, Dec. 7, he will run the Rehoboth Seashore Half Marathon and achieve a milestone of 1,000 races run. A 6-foot-5 former basketball player at Smyrna, Jules has a low-impact sports history and his intelligent approach to training has kept him off the injured list. “He hasn’t missed a Ten Sisters event in 18 years,” said Wayne Kursh of Races2Run. “Always has a positive attitude and always finishes in the top three in his age group.” Jules, 71, won the 70-74 age group in four races last week, including the Wobble Gobble in 25:38, Gabby Gobble in 25:53, Pumpkin Pie in 25;52 and Turkey Trot in 25:25. If Jules went skydiving, he’d fall at 8:20 minutes a mile. And he’s a rocker and dancer, and never misses Firefly. 

Josh Wright

A Mariner kid who didn’t wrestle as an eighth-grader, came back out in high school and won his first varsity match Dec. 4 at Lake Forest. Josh, fighting off his back at 113 pounds in the first period, came back to win by pin in period three. “There was just no way I was giving up six team points,” Josh said. “Josh wrestled for the Cape Takedown Club and then Mariner Middle School. He didn’t wrestle in eighth grade,” coach Chris Mattioni said. He has a lot of potential and should help Cape’s lower weights. “Josh is athletic, has experience and just needs to improve on little things. His older brother Justin wrestled at Cape 2012-16,” Mattioni added. “He’s looked good in practices, but tonight was the real deal.” Josh plays lacrosse in the spring along with about 10 other athletes in the wrestling program.