HAMMOND | The gold hair on the side of Alex Schreiber’s head contrasts with the purple top and back, and from a distance it appears the purple stripe is a legitimate Mohawk.
Moments after the start of Wednesday’s Great Lakes Athletic Conference boys race, no one was close enough to see the dye job in detail.
Schreiber was happy Gavit brought back the tradition of hair augmentation for the conference race after a year without it. He also kept up his own tradition by winning a second consecutive GLAC individual title, this one coming in 18 minutes, 26 seconds at a mildly cold, freshly mown Dowling Park.
“The weather helped me, and luckily I had my Under Armour,” Schreiber said. “I wanted to go faster, and the low grass really helped. I was pushing, and it would have been nice to go even faster.”
A Key Club member and active member of his church, Schreiber, a junior, didn’t run cross country as a freshman but has turned into a contender. His goal is a semistate berth, and with sectionals starting Tuesday and Schreiber logging 60 miles a week, he feels ready.
Last year he won the GLAC meet by a step; Wednesday he was 55 seconds ahead of the next finisher.
“I’ve been wanting to do a lot better than last year,” Schreiber said.
“Last year we didn’t dye our hair, but this year we brought back the tradition to say, ‘Hey, Gavit’s here.’”
The meet hosts didn't win the team title on the boys side -- Morton did -- but the Gladiators managed a repeat championship on the girls side.
Morton’s boys placed 10 runners in the top 19, with Miguel Flores and Justin Lara finishing 2-3 by a stride. Manuel Lara was fifth, and Gerardo Montoya broke a personal best by more than 90 seconds, taking seventh a few seconds ahead of teammate Greg Jazyk.
“They were together, and they motivated each other,” third-year Morton coach Annie Maksimovich said after winning her first title with the boys. “All year we had a lot of peer pressure and very good motivation. Even with injuries, they pushed through. They definitely showed me they want to win.”
Alexandria James won the girls race for Gavit, finishing in 22:54 and ahead of Morton’s Luna Mireles and Celeste Rosillo. The Gladiators sophomore was sixth last year.
“It feels good,” she said. “I thought (Mireles) was going to pass me, but then I started kicking around the pond and then started sprinting with everything I had toward the finish.”
James and conference rivals such as Clark’s Camyrria Baggett (fourth) went back and forth beating each other all season. James, who didn’t think she would excel in the sport but tried it anyway, cited steady, consistent improvement as a key to Wednesday’s win.
“Like my mom says, if you practice good, you’ll perform good,” James said.
Sisters Katrina and Samantha Smedley were fifth and ninth, respectively, for the Gladiators. Kristina Palmerin and Breona Muller rounded out the scoring.
“The girls stepped up and ran an excellent team race,” Gavit coach Rich Jay said. “We had four (personal records) in our top five.”