Salute To Seniors: Connor Wozniak - Booker HS

The 2017-2018 school year has provided some great highlights in both cross country and track across the Sunshine State. In the coming weeks many of our seniors will head out to start their college careers both athletically and academically. We wanted to salute them one more time in this special feature and say thank you for your support over the years.

Today we salute Booker HS senior Connor Wozniak.

What was your most memorable race/moment?

My most memorable race was the 3200m at the Tarpon Invitational my senior year of track.  My 3200 PR before the meet was a 10:20, 7 seconds off of the Booker school record of 10:13 set by my teammate who had graduated two years ago.  I opted out of racing the 1600 that meet to be fresh for the 32.  I was seeded second going in, and the top seed had already raced both the 1600 and 800, so my chances of winning were also pretty good.  I went out with the leaders, then on the final stretch of the third lap, I went around them and took the lead.  After that, it became all about the time.  I came in with one lap to go at 8:59, needing to close in 74 for the record.  I kicked as hard as I could and won by 5 seconds in 10:12.09, breaking the Booker school record and achieving my season-long goal.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

My biggest competition over my four years, actually even longer than that, was Dylan Hull from Sarasota High.  We have been in school together since second grade (we go to a school without sports so a lot of us run for different schools), and have been running together since we were eight or nine years old.  We ran middle school track together in eighth grade, and even when our times weren't super close together, he was still my biggest mental competition.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishments were getting the Booker school record in the 3200m and winning my district in the 3200m.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?

If I could do it all over again, I would work harder on recruiting so I could have a team.  I also would have started caring a lot more earlier.  I always cared about running, but I wish I had had the level of commitment I had my senior year for all four years.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

The most difficult obstacle I had to overcome was running for a different school than I go to and not having a team.  I go to Pine View, which has no high school sports, so athletes had to run for their district schools.  I ran for Booker, a half hour drive from where I go to school, along with one other person from Pine View, Thomas Halflants.  For my first two years of high school, Thomas and I took the city bus for an hour and a half every day for practice.  On top of that, we had five runners my freshman and sophomore years, and after that, we never had a team large enough to score, so I had to qualify for everything individually.  Not having a team also makes practices harder, especially long runs, since there's not as much team camaraderie and support.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss competing the most. The hype leading up to meets, checking who is in my race, and the thrill of competing were my favorite parts of running.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

If you're getting frustrated, keep pushing through because if you give all your effort and commit to the sport, improvement will come. 

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

My coach has had a huge influence on my performance.  Having such a small team meant we all got very close to our coach, Steve Crane.  Coach Crane helped me improve as a runner and a person, teaching me how to always keep running in my life and love the sport.

What are your college plans?

I am attending the University of Notre Dame next year to continue my academic career.  I will also be running club and playing ultimate frisbee and other club sports.

Who would you like to say thank you to?

I would like to say thank you to Thomas Halflants for being the other Booker runner by my side all these years, even when we had nobody else.  I would like to thank Ryan Bausback for being my motivation and inspiration and setting the bar for me to strive for.  I would also like to thank Ben Hartvigsen, Orlando Cicilioni, and all of Sarasota High's team for giving me people to train with. I would also like to say thank you to Coach Crane for helping me grow as a runner, being a companion when we had a small team, and helping me get into my dream school with his recommendation.

Seniors, don't be left out! Submit your Salute to Seniors answers to and be featured on the site!