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Always looking toward next race

Disappointed in his state finish, Jesuit's Andy Biladeau knows he will get another chance.

By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 28, 2002

TAMPA -- One could tell Andy Biladeau was frustrated after the Class 2A state championship race.

The look on his face was not the typically toothy smile fans have come to expect from the Jesuit sophomore. Biladeau's eyes were not as bright and engaging as normal, instead squeezed into two tight, piercing brown balls.

His pacing back and forth in the finish area and disgusted grimace let everybody know it probably wasn't the best time to approach one of the most amiable runners in the county.

With some runners, the body language might have led an observer to brace for a bench-tipping, water cup-throwing outburst. Then something strange happened.

Biladeau picked up his cup of water, wiped the sweat off his brow and headed straight for Clearwater Central Catholic's Kevin Lyons, his hottest rival who had just beaten him by 12 seconds.

His handshake was followed by a congratulatory arm around the shoulder as Biladeau told the CCC senior what a great race he had just run. Then it was off to Ryder Leary where he congratulated the Bishop Kenny runner on his win.

Just like that Biladeau was back.

Five minutes after he had finished third on what is basically his home course to two runners he expected to be closer to, Biladeau went from frustrated to just plain disappointed. Nowhere between the two came anger.

"Sometimes it's just not there when you need it," Biladeau said in the finish area. "There's nothing you can do about it. I just have to get up and run better next week."

That's the thing about a runner like Biladeau. There always seems to be a next week. Running is more than a pastime, it has become a passion.

On Saturday, he will run in the Foot Locker South Regional Championships in Charlotte, N.C., for the chance to qualify for the National Championships in San Diego in December.

Leary will be there. Lyons will be there. Biladeau will be trying to beat them and one can bet a "poor" showing at the state meet won't make one bit of difference. After all, with the credentials Biladeau possesses, blowing off one bad race shouldn't be a problem.

That job will be made easier when Biladeau looks back and realizes he owns the fastest 5-kilometer time in the state this season, 15 minutes, 3 seconds in the Red Mule road race in August. Or the fifth-fastest cross-country time in the state this year (15:30 at the Pre-State meet). Or the 9:13 he recorded in a 3,200-meter race against Lyons on the track during halftime of a Jesuit football game.

What those accomplishments can't do is take away the sting of disappointment after a race he had been training for since April.

"It's hard to train for seven months for one day and not have it on that day," Biladeau said, his eyes narrowing as he seemingly switched his focus to the South Regionals. "Sometimes you just don't have it."

Then again, sometimes you do. And you can bet it won't be long before Biladeau has it again.

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