HAMMOND | Runners from near and far, regardless of background, are creatures of habit.
Routines laced with idiosyncrasies become a part of every race.
So when proposed construction at Dowling Park forced the Great Lakes Athletic Conference meet — as well as all of host Gavit’s home meets — to Riverside Park for the first time since 2009, Gavit’s best runners simply did what they normally do.
Zach Schreiber’s “normal” conference meet routine is to bleach his brown hair blonde and paint a purple Mohawk down the middle. Oh, and win the race as well.
Schreiber won Wednesday’s GLAC Meet in 18:42 for his third and final consecutive championship in the race, the last two coming with the racing stripe. No non-Gavit male runner has ever won the meet.
“It means so much for me to carry that on,” Schreiber said. “That’s what drove me to get back in shape because we had to win this. It’s a tradition to win it, and that’s what happened.”
Schreiber had a stress fracture in his right foot and missed most of September in a walking boot before embarking on his first run in a month this past Saturday. He came home in 18:42 to beat Morton’s Manuel Lara and teammate Vincente Valdez.
“I was so glad to do what I did,” Schreiber said. “It was more heart than body.”
Gavit’s Alexandria James repeated as champ on the girls side and has a year to go to match former teammate Stephanie Maman’s three-peat.
James wasn’t the wire-to-wire leader, but passed the field after 1,000 meters.
“It was great because I had family here to support me, and I was really focused on lowering my time from last year, and it felt really good to do that,” James said after navigating the course in 22:51.
“I think it’s awesome to know I can get three in a row. When (Maman) was a senior and I was a freshman I’d look up to her and want to be as good as or better than her.”
Gavit coach Rich Jay was happy with the front-runners.
“They’ve just taken the Gavit traditions on in terms of road work and stepping themselves up to win and maintain the tradition,” Jay said.
While Schreiber and James were individual champs again, the team titles switched sides as Gavit won the boys meet and Morton took the girls title, a reverse of last year when Morton’s boys won and Gavit’s girls won their second straight.
Gavit’s boys edged Clark 32-40 as Josh Lumbreras and Kaven Kolb also cracked the top 10. Clark’s Arturo Ruiz (fourth) led five Pioneers in the top 11.
The Governors’ girls team won by virtue of having the only complete quintet. Clark didn’t field a team, Hammond had one girl and Gavit had just four.
Behind James, Morton’s Luna Mireles, Celeste Rosillo, Leslie Esquivel and Brittany Sendejas finished 2-3-4-5. Rosillo and Esquivel are seniors.
“I’m really proud of the team,” Morton coach Scott Lush said. “They ran hard, and as a coach that’s all you can ask for. They deserved this.”