A four-year performer for Steinert, senior Hagen Delakowski has emerged as the Spartans clear-cut number one runner this fall (Photo by Rich Fisher).
By Rich Fisher
Oct. 5: Hagen Delakowski is on a winning streak.
After finishing third in Steinert’s first cross country meet of the year, the senior has been the overall winner in the Spartans last three races in helping the team to a 3-5 record.
“I’m pretty happy,” Delakowski said. “My times aren’t really as low as I really want them to be but I’ve still got some time left to improve. Right now I’m just hoping we can reach states with the entire team so I’m just looking forward to that race.”
Delakowski opened the season by finishing third in 17:43 in a race that included Allentown, Ewing, Trenton, West Windsor-Plainsboro South and Lawrence at Rosedale Park. That was followed by first place finishes at Rosedale in a meet that included Notre Dame, WW-P South and Hamilton West (17:36); and a week later in a meet that included Trenton, Hightstown and Lawrence (17:42). This past Tuesday in a meet with Princeton, WW-P North, Allentown and West, he ran a season low 17:40 at Washington Crossing.
On Sep. 22 Hagen ran a 17:58 and finished in the Top 10 in the Class Meet at Thompson Park, which is where the Central Jersey sectional meets will be held.
“I’d like to reach the low 16s this year, but without running at Vets (Veterans Park), it might be kind of tough,” he said. “But I’m still pretty confident I might reach it.”
Veterans Park is unavailable for cross country this fall due to some damage on the boardwalk section of the trail, so most of the races are at Rosedale. Despite Delakowski not liking his times, coach Ron “Yak” Yacyk has been satisfied so far.
“Hagen is our number one runner,” Yacyk said “He was our one-A last year. He’s doing very well. He finished in the top 10 at the Class Meet in Thompson Park, which was fantastic.
“He’s our leader. He led all the summer practices and he’s someone all the kids look up to. He’s a four-year varsity letter-winner and he’s been a top-seven runner for us all four years. We expected him to come out and be our number one runner this year and he hasn’t disappointed us.”
Delakowski followed his brother, Axel, into the world of cross country although big brother was more of a swimmer than a runner.
“I always played tag when I was little; and I was pretty good at that,” Hagen said. “My brother hopped on to cross country when he was a freshman. I don’t know why, but he did. I was pretty fast, I did cross country and it started flowing together. I was just really good at that so I just did long distance in track, too.”
When he is just out running on his own, Delakowski just likes to go on a journey.
“I know I have to push myself to go fast, but sometimes if I really want to go somewhere new I just run there so I can take in everything,” he said. “It’s kind of freeing, I guess.”
It also helps when the real races start, as his winning streak will indicate.