Scott Denham’s first-place finish at the fourth annual Panerathon 10K held in downtown Youngstown on Aug. 25 was satisfying for the 2007 Clay graduate for all sorts of reasons.
Denham, 24, is in his third season as an assistant men’s and women’s cross country coach under head coach Brian Gorby at Youngstown State University. Not only did Denham earn a cash prize and a medal, but the victory just may have earned him a little more “street cred” with his YSU runners.
“YSU is very involved in the race itself,” said Denham, who graduated from YSU with an undergraduate degree in biology in 2011 and then earned his masters degree in May. “It’s nice for our runners to see that if I can get there and run strong, it shows that I’m a coach who still runs strong and I know how what it takes to get to that next level.
“I also get to train with Youngstown (athletes). I can get in some workouts with the guys, and it gives the guys a boost. They know that if they have that kind of training partner, they can do the same thing.”
Denham, whose parents, Scott and Darlene, live in Curtice, finished the Panerathon 10K in 31 minutes, 8 seconds — more than one minute faster than his second-place time (32:15) in 2012.
“I was pretty happy with that time,” he said. “This time of year I’m building up for fall half-marathons, and that’s a good time for me in August. I run one (half-marathon) at least every fall, but this year I’ll run two. I’m in a little bit better shape and I’m a little bit older and wiser.”
Denham, who lives in Youngstown, said his training for the 10K included 90-100 miles of road work a week.
“I do some work on the track and do a lot of running at Mill Creek Metropark in Youngstown,” he said. “I was happy with my fitness going into it. I trained a lot smarter. I knew I could mix it up. It just ended up working out great in my favor. When you get a bunch of really good guys, it’s nice to challenge each other for the lead. I knew I was in shape to be up there and challenge and just run my own race.”
Denham competed in the 20-24 age group and ended up beating defending overall champion Andy Morgan. About 8,000 people competed in the two-mile walk and 10K run, in which 100 percent of proceeds went to the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center.
“It’s one of the largest races in Mahoning County,” Denham said.
Denham was a three-time regional qualifier in cross country at Clay, and he was the City League 800-meter champion as a sophomore. As a senior he helped the Eagles’ 4x400 relay team set a school record and reach the Division I state track and field meet. Denham still holds Clay’s 800 record.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to hold onto that record,” he said, “but I hope somebody beats that record. As a coach, I’m a big promoter of the Toledo area and I try to do a lot of recruiting that way. I always try to motivate the Clay kids. I tell them I worked hard for that record, but if they can beat that record, hat’s off to them.”
Denham ran cross country and indoor and outdoor track at YSU and had “pretty good success.” He was an All-Horizon League performer in track as a junior and senior, in the 800 and 1,500.
“I really enjoyed my career here,” Denham said. “I met a lot of great teammates. It was a lot of fun traveling to New York and California to go and run. It was a great experience.”
Denham now works as a sales associate at a local running specialty company.
“I’m still getting interviews for a job in biology,” he said. “I’m doing more environmental microbiology work and wetland ecology. I can do oil and gas work if I want to, and I can do a lot of restoration work, like if they’re dredging in the channels of the Maumee River, or wildlife restoration.”