Running kids love the game and just endure the pain

November 27, 2018

Pain management - An incredible number of young athletes under 13 are showing up in 5K races because their parents bring them – they sure don’t have a driver’s license. And I doubt they love it; rather they just do it. You may as well guess what your dog is thinking when you step out of the shower. The physics of running is focus over time and distance, which is why most adults wear headphones, but kids are locked in the moment. And coming around the bend to the finish chute, it’s every person for themselves, never give a child an even break, walk them down if you can, because most likely they will run faster next race while you stagnate or slow down. Back in my running days, Logan Short was my nemesis. He first beat me when he turned 8. After that, he tried to trip me out on the course. I had to warn him, “Stay in your lane or I’ll tell your dad, Ralph,” who most likely put him up to it.

Don’t drink the water - I was in the stands as a coach scouting Sussex Central football, hosting Salesianum, 30 years ago or longer. I was clipboard guy, pondering, “Is that an odd or even front?” What I do remember is Sallies coming off the field at halftime and one of their students yelling, “Don’t drink the water!” Another comment was, “Be careful, they’re all related down here, even the refs.” It was funny, I thought, and there was definitely a distrust factor. Fast forward to the digital/analytic age of 2018. Central versus Sallies for the Division I state championship will be played Saturday, Dec. 1, at the University of Delaware. Sallies coach Bill Dinardo has coached in six state championship games for Sallies, winning four, which includes wins over Middletown in 2013, Saint Mark’s in 2009, Sussex Central in 2006 and Newark in 2005. Dinardo lost in the title game to Smyrna in 2015 and Middletown in 2012. Dinardo also coached Middletown to Division II state championships in 1997, 1998 and 1999, but lost to Sussex Tech in 1992 and Delmar in 2001. Sussex Central coach John Wells has lost in four finals, including Caesar Rodney in 2008, Middletown in 2007, Salesianum in 2006 and Newark in 2000. It all means something, but what exactly is unknowable. Coach Dinardo is 7-4 in state finals. Each football season is a new slice of life, and a state championship game is its own separate reality. Cape Henlopen won the Division I state title in 1979, the only way-down-under school, where everyone is related, to do so in the 41-year history of the tournament.

Division II football - Downstate has won its share of Division II football titles, starting with Delmar in 1976, followed by Seaford in 1983, Delmar in 1985, Laurel in 1986 and 1987, Indian River in 1988, Laurel in 1991, Sussex Tech in 1992, Lake Forest in 1995, Delmar from 2000-02, Milford in 2008, Delmar in 2009, Indian River in 2011, Woodbridge in 2016 and Delmar in 2017.  

Panda power - Don’t sleep on the Padua Pandas in any sport. Knock them out, but they will be back. Cape hockey was the only team to defeat Padua this year, once in regular season and again in the Division I state finals. But there are serious athletes in the pipeline. Padua is an all-girls Catholic school with an enrollment of 660. They’ve won 61 state championships across all sports, including the last six indoor track titles, the last four cross country titles and 16 overall, and titles in volleyball 2012 and 2013. The Pandas have won eight soccer state championships since 1995 and have won the last four spring track titles and 16 overall since 1973. The school motto is “Sauvitar sed fortiter,” which translates to “softly but strongly.” Padua is in walking distance to Salesianum and costs about $14K per year for tuition. Salesianum is closer to $16K. “Catholics win championships” is a book I plan to write, and as the Franciscans told me 50 years ago, “The God of sports is Catholic.”

Snippets - Cape Henlopen has a total of 57 state championship banners hanging in the new Big House gym. The running sports, including cross country, indoor and outdoor track account for 26 state titles. Boys’ and girls’ lacrosse add up to 16. Field hockey has won nine championships. Football, girls’ basketball, baseball and girls’ tennis have each won a single state title. Boys’ basketball won state titles in 1975 and 1976. Cape has the most accumulated state titles of any public school in Delaware until someone proves me wrong. Who am I, a statistician? Go on now, git!