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Parasiliti: Kids turn race into run for the rosy

October 07, 2012|By BOB PARASILITI
  • Bob Parasiliti
Joe Crocetta

There are some sure signs that prove we are getting older.

Some are obvious. Gray hair, wrinkles and my ever-present pot belly announce that I’m not on the first trip around the track.

Then again, with the pot belly, it might actually be my first trip around the track.

Probably the most telling sign of age is eyewear — and it’s not bifocals.

As we get older, blinders are a fashion statement.

We get focused on the straight ahead and ignore peripheral objects. Most of the time, vision is trained on money, success and finishing on top.

Have you noticed how happy people have become because of the success of the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals? Die-hards have had to elbow their way to stay on the bandwagon these days.

Now the young, they have a simpler view of life. It’s a little more hip and encompassing.

That’s what happens when you look through rose-colored glasses.

The world becomes a wonderful place in that simpler approach. The biggest pressure in the world is getting a good seat on the school bus.

The simple life was on full display on Saturday during the 31st annual Washington County Public Schools Elementary Schools Cross Country Run at Eastern Elementary School.

There was no rat race on the rolling terrain around the school. It was more about the human race.

It was the fun of competing.

It was about families taking the time to come together to encourage a group of about 750 youngsters, but mostly because one of their own was a part of it.

It was a reason to drop the blinders because those with rose-colored glasses had a better view of what everything was all about.

For the old folks, there was a hook. The six races had winners and losers. It had trophies and awards. There was a pecking order of success. The players — some even wearing team colors — were making it easy to cheer and pick favorites.

But for the kids, it was nothing more than weekend recess.

The idea of competing against runners from two dozen county schools wasn’t really lost on the kids. It just wasn’t noticed.

The runs, which signified the end of a physical education cycle at each school, featured kids with a wide range of motivations while creating an interesting mix of ideas from a bunch of formative thinkers standing in the world most of us used to know.

They prove that you can be driven in your purpose and strategic in your plan, but still enjoy the moment at hand.

It started with Zoe Schlotterbeck’s determined march to the third-grade girls title.

She executed a game plan on the fly, knowing to conserve energy and when to let out the throttle to get to her convincing victory.

But she got it all with one simple reason in mind.

“I didn’t want to sprint and I didn’t want to waste my energy,” the Williamsport third grader said, breathless in victory. “I made my move when we got to the hills because I’m good at running hills.”

Why?

“I just like running,” she said.

Sarah Greenlee, from Clear Spring Elementary, was a little more subdued about it all, but content in her second-place effort.

“I thought I could do just fine,” she said. “I thought I could be first, but it’s OK not being first. At least I wasn’t 10th. It didn’t matter if I was first or second, getting in the top 10 is as good as being first.”

All the smiles and high fives that go with simple accomplishment felt the same.

On the boys’ side of third grade, Eastern Elementary’s Henry Sullivan heeded his coach’s instructions and didn’t start his sprint too late. He took the lead on the final backstretch as Hickory’s Stefan Cebotari slowed his pace to pull out the victory.

“I did it because of my dad,” Sullivan said. “Running is what we like to do. (The win) is pretty big. My dad told me it’s a big county and there’s a lot of kids who run. It didn’t matter that I won. I was happy I did my best.”

Cebotari was leading until his legs tired, forcing him to walk a stretch that allowed Sullivan to take the lead. He ran down the final stretch to finish.

“I tried to do my best for my dad,” he said. “I got too tired. I just wanted to do my best.”

Williamsport’s Erica Keplinger won the girls fourth grade race and was greeted with the adoring cheers of everyone as she finished without a challenge.

“I surprised myself,” she said about winning. “I didn’t realize that everyone was cheering for me at first. It surprised me. It felt good and it kept me motivated. (Even if I didn’t win), I would be happy because I tried.”

Rockland Woods’ Ryan Rasco turned in what may have been the most dominating of all performances in the boys fourth grade race.

“It was just fun. I like doing it,” he said. “It felt good to finish strong beause it meant I worked hard the whole race.”

There were other things that crossed Williamsport’s R.J. Green’s mind as he finished second.

“My family supports me,” he said. “My dad buys me all this stuff to run. I just like running.”

The view — along with motivation — is obviously a lot clearer in the front of the pack.

Perspective, though, can be found in the back.

Smithsburg’s Liam Abbott finished 112th in the boys third grade run. He ran because he wanted to help improve his football skills and to be active.

Winning the race was way out of his grasp. Reality wasn’t, though.

“I’m happy I finished,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I didn’t finish first. It doesn’t make me a better person. But getting through it makes me better than some people.”

That paints a rosy picture, no matter how old you are.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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