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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2001

Wells springs to head of pack

BY DON EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

A good first impression can go a long way.

In Brad Wells' case, he's traveled a long way and has made a good first impression.

Wells, a sophomore, is Bowling Green High School's top cross country runner after moving to Bowling Green from North Dakota this year.

It didn't take long for BG's longtime coach, Brian Tucker, to recognize how significant a role the North Dakota transplant may eventually play in the Bobcats' fortunes.

“I kind of had a suspicion on the first day when he practiced with us and he ran away from everyone else,” Tucker said. “I knew he was our best runner right then, but I just didn't know how he'd stack up against the other top runners in northwest Ohio.”

Whether or not Wells will have a chance to show where he stands among the area's top runners remains in question as the Bobcats prepare to run in Saturday's Northern Lakes League meet. Wells, who has run the 3.1-mile race in 16:11, suffered a pulled hamstring a week ago and sat out a race on Tuesday. He's hoping to be healthy enough to lead the Bobcats into the league meet.

“It's getting better, but it's still pretty tight,” said Wells at the start of BG's practice yesterday afternoon. “I'm going to try and run on Saturday and try to win.''

Wells added: “I'm about 80 percent.”

Wells has run in only three meets this season. He finished first in two of them and was leading the pack in the third race before feeling a pull in one of his hamstrings.

He said the injury dates back to when he played football last fall while also running cross country. His training for cross country a year ago consisted of running on his own following football practices.

Tucker, in his 34th year of coaching at Bowling Green, doesn't know everything about the history of the team's newest runner. However, he does know that when healthy, Wells is an exceptional talent.

Wells finished second a year ago in North Dakota's state cross country meet.

Tucker also knows that Wells has had a history of injuries. When Wells finished second last year, he wasn't 100 percent healthy.

Tucker believes an increased amount of stretching may help Wells avoid future setbacks. “He's unusually tight for a kid who runs so smoothly,” Tucker said.

Tucker thinks Wells has a chance to end up as one of the best distance runners he's ever coached. His 16:11 clocking is only 20 seconds off the school record of 15:51, set by Nolan Fahrer.

“I really anticipate that he'll eventually be down near that time,” Tucker said.

Wells also is confident that he can run better times. His best in North Dakota was 16:00.

“The courses here are a little flatter than in North Dakota,” he said.

Wells also expects to benefit from the expertise of his sister, Cami Wells, who is the Bowling Green State University cross country coach. He spent most of the summer living with her and following her training instructions that included running on average of more than 40 miles a week.

Wells' expectations go beyond Saturday's NLL meet.

“At home in North Dakota, I wanted to win state,” Wells said. “I still think if I'm healthy enough to train, I still can finish in the top three (in Ohio).”



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