Chartiers Valley's Mark Golebiewski runs to honor late father, qualifies for first PIAA cross country meet
Since mid-September, Chartiers Valley runner Mark Golebiewski has performed a ritual before every race. On his right hand, he writes what place he wants to finish. On his left, he writes, “Do it for dad.”
“Dad” is Wayne Golebiewski, who died Sept. 16.
They were home when, Golebiewski said, his father went into a seizure. An EMT in training, Golebiewski tended to his father until paramedics arrived, but there was nothing they could do. Wayne Golebiewski died a short while later.
There's something Golebiewski can do now: He runs to honor his father's memory.
Before the start of the WPIAL Class AAA cross country championship, Golebiewski, a senior, performed his ritual. He wrote the reminder of his father on his left hand, then wrote “18” on his right hand because he knew 18th place would get him into his first PIAA championship.
As he ran through the “castle” structure that marks the home stretch of the course at Cooper's Lake, Golebiewski said he could hear his coaches calling out places.
“I was in 16th or 17th,” he said. “I just had to maintain my place. I was golden then. My mindset was, ‘I'm walking out of here going to states.' ”
He crossed the line in 17th, 10 spots behind teammate Czar Tarr, who qualified for his third PIAA meet. The pair got additional company at states, as Kiki Thornton qualified for the girls Class AAA race.
“We were shooting to go as a team, but we hit some rough spots (this season),” Golebiewski said. “But being able to see three of us go to states, that's phenomenal.”
It is most fitting he would accompany Tarr to Hershey. While Golebiewski drew spiritual inspiration from his father, Tarr's running prowess pushed him physically.
Like Tarr, also a senior, Golebiewski added swimming and biking to his offseason training. In workouts, he would try his best to keep up with Tarr — all the while hearing his father's words.
“‘You want to be one of the top guys? You got to go out and run,'” Golebiewski echoed. “The days I didn't feel like it, he made me go out and run. He told me I had to stay up with Czar.
“(Czar) helped me get as far as I did. I was right behind him, staying up with him. By doing that, I was able to have an incredible season.”
Golebiewski said he felt great in the early stages of the WPIAL championship. But, he said, somewhere between the 2- and 21⁄2-mile mark he began to feel his body get heavy.
Then he looked down at his left hand. He found the resolve to push himself through the final stages of the race and into the PIAA meet.
“He's still so excited about it,” Tarr said. “I don't think I've ever see him happier in all the years we've run together.”
Regardless of the outcome in Hershey, Golebiewski isn't finished. There's still track and field season to think about.
He competes in the 3,200, the 3,200 relay and the 1,600. And though they are not yet on his hand, he has written his goals.
“For my two-mile goal, I want to shoot for under 10 minutes,” he said. “And my long-term goal is 9:30 or 9:45. For my one-mile I want to get under a four-minute mile. And my (leg of the 3,200), I'm shooting for 2 minutes flat or 2:02.”
Whatever times he runs, he will run them for dad.
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter at @CCurti_Trib.