Areas’ top runners converge on event named after Mason’s greatest Bizzarri

Kaitlin Lewis | Staff Writer

Angela Bizzarri would have been proud.

A 2006 Mason High School graduate, Bizzari is considered one of the greatest athletes to ever run track for the Mason Comets. Bizzarri was unable to be in attendance for the annual event that pays tribute to her eight state titles but the 2018 edition of the Bizzarri Mile was definitely not a disappointment.

Lakota East’s Dustin Horter captured the men’s title with a state record time of 4:04.

Turpin High School junior Sam Bush won the women’s race with a time 4:55.  Bush capped off a busy night winning the 3200 meters just a few minutes later.

During her high school career, Bizzarri won eight state championships. Now a member of the Mason High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Bizzarri went on to win three national championships at the University of Illinois.

Tom Rapp, former Boys Varsity Track coach who retired after the 2017 season, said creating this event was a way to not only honor Bizzarri’s time at MHS, but also create an event that could better relate with the fans.

“The mile is kind of special,” said Rapp, “1600 meters doesn’t speak to people, but people know how far a mile is. So when we did that we thought; let’s make it even more special than just calling it ‘the mile.’ Let’s name it after the greatest track and field athlete to ever come out of Mason, and that would be Angela Bizzarri.”

The Bizzarri mile was highly anticipated this year featuring Horter, who won the event last season and is considered one of the nation’s top high school runners.

With the outer edge of the track blocked off so fans could get a front row view, Bush won the girl’s event followed by Horter who outpaced the field while flirting with a sub four minute mile.

Mason senior Aaron Goetz was among four Comet athletes to participate in the mile event this year.

“It’s not every day you race and there are hundreds of fans literally an arms-length away from you,” said Goetz, “It’s stressful. You have to tune them out by focusing on the guy in front of you and putting one foot in front of the other.”

Bizzarri, now pursuing a post graduate medical degree left a lasting legacy after her high school track career.

Current girls head coach Tony Affatato and his wife Kelly Affatato started coaching Bizzarri in 2003. The Affatato coaching tandem built a lasting relationship with Bizzarri which led them to follow her throughout her collegiate career.

“She was compassionate, but yet did anything that needed to happen in order to win” Affatato said, “We followed her throughout her whole career and she was just and amazing individual.”

The title’s Bizzarri won as a high school and collegaite athlete not only led her to national prominence but it helped further cement Mason’s status as one of Ohio’s elite track programs.

Her high school fame helped put Mason running on the map, said Affatato. Naming the mile after Bizzarri was the Mason track program’s way to thank her for all she did for the MHS Track and Field program.

“The quote goes: ‘Winning Breads Winning,’” said Affatato. “So the more you win, the more success will come with it. After Bizzarri, everyone was talking about Mason High School and Mason running and Mason distance, and it just echoed from there. All of those state places, all of those state championships, the 13 that came after her; it all started with her.”

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Photos by Kaitlin Lewis.