LANCASTER — Cole Grecco has been running with a pretty fast crowd lately, but he was the one setting the pace Saturday.
That was only fitting, since this was his home race. And it might also have been fitting that the only runner who was even close enough to see him in the late stages of the Jingle in July 5K was his regular running partner — his father.
Grecco won Lancaster’s 5-kilometer race for the second straight year, running the 3.1-mile course in 18 minutes, 10 seconds, and he said the fact that he and his father, Chris, were able to go 1-2 was a thrill.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said.
Grecco, who will be a junior at Garrard County High School next month, beat his father to the finish line at the school by 32 seconds, and the next-closest finisher was nearly 2 minutes behind him.
It was the first victory in four races this summer for Grecco. He won the same race last year, when it was held in November before being moved to summer this year so it could be included the area 5K running series. It was another milestone of achievement in a year in which he has taken running more seriously than ever before and is taking aim at a successful cross country season at Garrard.
“I’m just trying to get ready for cross country,” he said. “I think I have a good shot of winning region and getting top 10 in state.”
Chris Grecco, who will be the assistant coach for Garrard’s cross country team, said he has noticed a change in his son’s level of dedication.
“He’s really committed himself this summer to run cross country,” the father said. “He’s very excited. He’s been working out pretty hard, getting a lot of runs in.”
The two of them frequently run together, often traveling along Ky. 52 from Lancaster to Hyattsville and back for a run of 7 1/2 to 8 miles.
Grecco gave up track and field after his eighth-grade year, then returned to running as a sophomore, first in cross country, where he qualified for the state meet, and then in track, where he made state in the 1,600-meter run. Now he has given up soccer to focus on cross country, saying he thinks the realization that he can compete at a higher level and the goal of running in college have motivated him.
He finished third in a recent 5K in Richmond and sixth in another in Nicholasville, but perhaps his best result this summer came July 4 in the Bluegrass 10,000 in Lexington, where he finished 30th in a field of 3,015 runners — and third in his age group — with a time of 38:17 over 6.2 miles.
“That’s the one I’d been training for all summer,” he said. “I didn’t run as well as I’d hoped, but it was hot, and I’d only one race over 5K distance (before).”
“For him to go out and run that well and to get to 4, 5, 6 miles, that’s new territory for him,” his father said.
Chris Grecco said he was satisfied with his result Saturday, when he ran an 18:42.
“I’m happy. I haven’t been running as much lately. I’ve been playing more soccer, but I’m still pretty active. But any time you can come out and get second place in a race is great, and when your son beats you, it’s even better, really,” he said.
He was also happy to see another son, 12-year-old Carson, finished 31st overall in 25:06 and win his age division.
“He’s much more of a soccer player,” Chris Grecco said. “He’ll tell us that he doesn’t want to run, but then he comes out here and does a 25 flat.”