Six-time and reigning champion Tyler Cantley would no doubt be the odds on favorite to win the News and Sentinel Two-Mile run next month in Parkersburg.
Only trouble is the Vincent native has yet to decide whether or not he will attempt to come away with what would be a record setting victory.
"I'm just kind of playing it by ear," said Cantley, who is now employed at Marietta Memorial Hospital. "I just recently picked up running again and have had some pretty good practice runs. If I can get back to running at my potential I might be able to make a good run at it."
Times file photo
Tyler Cantley crosses the finish line at last year’s News and Sentinel Two-Mile Race in Parkersburg. If Cantley elects to particpate in the event again this year, he would going for his seventh consecutive victory.
Cantley and Jason Linton are currently tied with six wins apiece in the annual run and between the two of them they have claimed the past 12 runnings of the event.
Winning 2-mile races is not the only thing the pair have in common.
Cantley and Linton are both graduates of Warren High School and Ohio University in Athens.
Linton started the streak by claiming the 2001 event and followed that up with victories in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 with a best time of 9:19 in 2002.
The two actually ran against one another in both 2005 and 2006 with Cantley placing third both years, coming within 20 seconds of Linton's time in 2006.
"The first year I ran I didn't know him (Linton) very well," recalled Cantley. "The second year he was running with some other OU track guys so they had quite a bit of experience. I kind of stayed right with them and that really showed me how to run and what it took to win."
Long time boys track and field coach Al Riffey coached both Linton and Cantley at Warren and credited both of them with helping build the strong track and field program that they have today.
"Jason (Linton) was one of the first real foundation layers of our program," said Riffey, who completed his 23rd year as boys coach this year. "Tyler came in as a freshman and was an integral part of some really good teams including our first SEOAL title (2004).
"Its kind of interesting and cool to say a Warren runner has won this event the past 12 years," said Cantley. "It's a pretty good legacy that we have begun."
Cantley claimed his first News and Sentinel title in 2007 and improved his time each of the next five years, setting a personal best of 9:39:17 in 2011.
Last season Cantley had little time to practice as he was busy completing his degree from OU in exercise physiology, but still managed to come away with a 12-second victory over 17-year old Kody Thomas of Racine, Ohio with a time of 9:56:06.
That time was the slowest time that Cantley had posted in the past four years and the 23-year old knows that to claim victory number seven this year he would likely need to improve upon last year's time.
"Every year that target on your back gets a little larger," said Cantley, who graduated from Warren in 2008 and Ohio University last year. "It gets more challenging every year."
Cantley hasn't set a definite deadline as to whether or not he participate in this year's event but with the event scheduled to run on August 17th, that decision will have to be made soon.
"No one has ever won seven in a row, so as a competitor it would be a huge accomplishment," said Cantley. "I've been fortunate to win six so to make it one step further would be pretty important to me."