As much as Benjamin Bo Waggoner enjoys running alongside his Maumee teammates, more often than not he usually ends up as a Panther running alone and away from the pack.
In fact, Waggoner runs like no other boys cross country runner ever has at Maumee.
Earlier this season he became the fastest in school history, covering the pristine Hedges Boyer Park 3.1-mile course at the Tiffin Carnival in a personal-best time of 15:30.5 to place third in the Division I field.
It eclipsed the school s mark of 15:34 set by Todd Nichols in 1982.
I would rate Bo and Todd Nichols pretty close together, but Bo is running right now as a junior what Todd was running as a senior, said Maumee s Dave Dugai, who has coached the Panthers for 26 years.
Waggoner has already competed at the state tournament level in cross country and track.
I came into the race hoping to set a PR [personal record] and run with the top guys in the race, he said. It was a big step forward for me as far as who I can run with.
Waggoner has been the dominant runner in the NLL ever since his freshman year. Last Saturday, he won the league meet for the third straight time.
We knew he was talented coming in but he may have surprised some in the league, Dugai said. This year, he s not sneaking up on anyone. Everywhere we go people already know him. He s a marked man.
A year ago, Waggoner placed fourth at district before running 12th in the regional. His season ended with a 32nd-place finish at state. He crossed the finish line in a time of 16:33, which is more than a minute slower than his best time this season.
Waggoner said heading into the district is when the season becomes serious. One bad effort could mean the end.
I feel pretty good about the district race, Waggoner said. Our main goal as a team is to try and finish in the top three teams to qualify for regionals. That means I need to place as high as possible to help the team.
It s really a lot of fun to run with my teammates and hang out with them, but it s also a lot of fun to go out and race and see what you can do.
Waggoner, who boasts a 4.72 grade-point average and considers math and physics favorite subjects, approaches running the way he approaches schoolwork with a passion.
Training year-round, he often runs seven days a week.
The lean, 5-foot-7, 115-pounder is particularly regimented in his behavior at this point in the season. In bed by 10 p.m. and applying the food pyramid into his daily life is all part of it. Junk foods are eliminated.
Running is definitely a big part of my life and I spend a lot of time on it, he said. The most important thing is to eat right. Eat right and only when you re hungry, and do not eat a lot of chips and candy when you re not really hungry.
As the district, regional and state tournaments get closer and closer I get a little more focused on doing all the little things to help me.
Dugai agrees attention to details has played a big role in Waggoner s success.
He s just a great kid, Dugai said. He s a neat kid to coach because he is so coachable. He s a leader by example, by the way he goes about his business.
Contact Donald Emmons at:email@example.com or 419-724-6302.