“I felt amazing”: Marlington’s Cernansky wins gold in two distance races at state

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It’s common wisdom. The more weight you carry when running, the slower you’ll go.

Don’t try telling that to Marlington’s Colin Cernansky.

On the final day of the OHSAA Track and Field State Championship at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium, Cernansky warmed up for the Division 2 1600m run sporting a sizeable chip on his shoulder, one born from being part of the Dukes’4x800m relay team that failed to win a third consecutive title and instead had to settle for the silver.

That loss weighed heavily on the mind of the Marlington senioras he lined up for the race.

“I was pretty pissed off yesterday,” he said. “I think that only gave me more fire going into today. It gave me more motivation to come out here, to get the gold medal.”

In a personal-record time of 4:07.53, the Ohio State University commit won his third consecutive 1600m state title and had that gold around his neck.

And that chip on his shoulder? Was it gone?

“The relief off my shoulders is amazing right now,” Cernansky said. “I’m super happy I was able to go out there, run that fast and get the win.”

Woodridge’s Sam Su stayed close to Cernansky for much of the race as they broke away from the pack, and after the first three laps only two-tenths of a second separated them.

That’s when Cernansky slipped into another gear that Su had no response to as Cernansky pulled away, running the final lap in a blistering 1:01.80, the fastest time in the field. Incidentally, the time also broke a Stark County record that had stood for 15 years.

“I couldn’t be more happy right now,” said Cernansky of his result. “To go out there and run 4:07, I felt amazing. That’s one way to end my high school 1600 career. I’m super blessed to have been able to go out here and do that today.”

But back to that chip. Lest you think one medal would suffice for Cernansky, who is also a state champion cross country runner, you are sorely mistaken. The chip from Friday’s disappointment would remain.

“I’ve still got one more race left, I need to get some good recovery in, and I’m going to be going into the 3200 fired up as well,” Cernansky said prior to the run.

It is questionable how much recovery one can get in 90 minutes, but that was all Cernansky had before running in the 3200, an event he had never before run in the postseason. Still, he entered the race one of the favorites by virtue of setting the Stark County record in late April at the Huber Heights Wayne Invitational.

“After that 8:58, I was super confident,” Cernansky said of his county record. “Obviously, that was on fresh legs. But I don’t think I could have passed up this opportunity. Not many guys run the 16/32 double and complete it like I did, but I’m super happy with the choice I made.”

Happy indeed. Unlike the 1600, which Cernansky led wire-to-wire, he bid his time in the 3200 lurking within a pack of 10 runners.

That was, at least, until the final two laps. After 2400 meters, Cernansky was about a second behind Bay’s Michael Hanselman before making a move and splitting from the pack. As he entered the final lap, Cernansky leaped into first place and only St. Clairsville’s Ben Shields was hanging with him.

“I know when it comes down to it, I trust in my foot speed,” Cernansky said. “This race played perfectly into my hands. I sat and kicked on that top pack of guys and I’m really happy with my choice. I don’t think this could’ve gone any better for me.”

Cernansky again found that other gear that his competitors just did not seem to have and ran the final lap in a blistering 1:00.98 giving him a comfortable cushion from Shields and the rest of the pack, earning him a second gold medal.

As Cernansky crossed the finish line, exorcising the demons of yesterday’s race, he could be heard declaring, “This is my house,” before taking a bow.

After his dual performance, it is likely that no one in the crowd at Welcome Stadium would disagree with such a proclamation. But that self-assuredness is part of what makes Cernansky such a dangerous runner.

“A lot of people say I’m cocky, but I think it’s just confidence at the end of the day,” he said. “I trust in my training; I trust in myself. I trust in what I’ve done all year. When I’m confident, I think that’s the most important thing to my success. You come into a race confident, and I like to think I’m unstoppable when I’m as confident as I was today.

After capping a storied scholastic career – state cross country champion, relay champion, 1600m champion, and now 3200m champion – Cernansky was eager to bask in the glow of victory with those people closest to him that made his remarkable journey possible.

“They’ve been here the whole ride,” Cernansky said of his supporters. “I’ve got a huge crowd here today. All my family, friends, teammates, coaches… I’m super grateful for everybody. I can’t wait to go talk to them after this. They’re probably more happy for me than I am for myself right now, so it’s just been super cool to have had them here this entire ride.”

And for one of the most decorated athletes in Marlington’s history, what a ride it’s been.