Blanchard River Buzz

A blog for rabid sports fans in the Findlay Area. Maintained by Findlay Courier sports writer Jamie Baker. The opinions expressed are my own crazed ramblings and not those of my employer the Findlay Publishing Company and its subsidiaries.

Monday, April 16, 2007

From Bluffton High School to Boston

EDITOR'S NOTE: It was kind of a pleasant surprise to peruse the results of Monday's Boston Marathon and see a familiar name near the top of the results list. Mark Heiman is making a special contribution to the Buzz today and it's all about Ann Alyanak. But she'll always be thought of as Bluffton High School track and field standout Ann Stechschulte to us...

From Mark Heiman...
I had no more than sat down in my chair Monday when Jamie — also dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, as he and I had a living tribute to Don Ho — told me that Bluffton native Ann Alyanak had finished ninth in the Boston Marathon.
I looked at him quizzically and thought about it. We then said it about the same time, “Ann Stechschulte.”
Alyanak finished ninth in women’s division ov the world’s preeminent marathon. She covered the rainy, windy course in 2 hours, 38 minutes and 55 seconds. That time was good for 113th overall out of over 23,000 runners and was an Olympic 'A’ standard time.
A number of memories came flooding back from watching her on the basketball court, where she starred for the Pirates as a wing, to the track.
One of those memories is something I will never, ever forget and I can still see it vividly. It taught me a lesson. It definitely taught Alyanak a lesson and probably even the 10,000 or so fans that were watching the final Ohio High School Athletic Association state track meet in The Horseshoe.
During her senior year of 1997, Alyanak surprised the field by winning the high jump with a leap of 5-foot-6. Later in the day she won the 1,600-meter run, an event she had finished second in the previous year.
Then it was time for her race — the 800, which Alyanak had won the previous season.
Alyanak came down the backstretch with the lead. She was ahead of Minster’s Jessie Barhorst comfortably and was keeping Barhorst in her sights.
But Alyanak didn’t see Edgerton’s Kylee Studer, who was charging hard on the outside.
Now this is the part I can still see. Stechschulte slowed about 10 meters from the finish line and with about two steps left she was almost walking. Then she realized Studer was coming and lunged for the finish line, but in a photo finish placed second by .09 of a second.
It then turned into one of those moments in journalism that I don’t like. I had to ask her about the 800 finish. But there weren’t any tears or trembling lips. Alyanak was poised and straight forward.
“That was my stupidity. I let it slip out of my hands. I did not know she was there, but I know better than to let up at the end,” she said at the time.
For good measure, she may have called it stupidity, but Alyanak was anything but. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Bluffton and went to Purdue, where she also had a fabulous career.
Hopefully in the near future, I’ll get the chance to talk with Alyanak. I want to see if that lesson she learned that day 10 years ago proved fruitful as she runs toward her dream of competing in the marathon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


  • At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I remember the moment well. Ann was and is an outstanding athlete and person. I graduated from Bluffton High school a year before Ann and ran cross country and track and field. She was amazing then and continues to amaze. I wish her the best in capturing her Olympic dream.


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