During his 32-year run as head track coach at Bluffton High School,
Steve Bruskotter has been questioned often as to who the best runner
he’s ever coached is. Now he has his answer – John Guagenti. “I’ve been asked that quite a few times,” Bruskotter said. “Now that
everything is over and you see what he accomplished at the end, I’d
have to say he’s No. 1.”
During his 32-year run as head track coach at Bluffton High School, Steve Bruskotter has been questioned often as to who the best runner he’s ever coached is. Now he has his answer – John Guagenti.
“I’ve been asked that quite a few times,” Bruskotter said. “Now that everything is over and you see what he accomplished at the end, I’d have to say he’s No. 1.”
Guagenti was No. 1 four times to be exact at the 101st annual boys Ohio state track and field championships held June 6-7 at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Guagenti placed first in the Division III 200 and 400 meters and anchored the Pirates’ winning 4×200 and 4×400 relays.
With his four firsts, Guagenti became just the 10th male athlete in the state meet’s 101-year history – and just the third in the last 56 years – to claim four gold medals on Ohio’s grandest stage.
Guagenti’s heroics also helped Bluffton capture its first team title in track and just the second state title in school history (won wrestling in 1982).
Guagenti is the 2008 Huntington Bank/Ohio High Magazine Boys Track Runner of the Year.
“Obviously an outstanding job,” Bruskotter said. “What an outstanding athlete. Besides being apart of four first places, he’s the best I’ve really seen all the way around.”
Bruskotter has seen some greats. He coached state runner-up teams in 1978, 1985 and 1994 and led the Bluffton girls to a second place finish in 2000. He’s never had an athlete quite like Guagenti though.
“Great motivator, fan tastic trainer,” Bruskotter said. “He’s the most focused kid I’ve seen in track in quite a few years.”
Guagenti’s path to prosperity backs that up. Although he knew running was his passion at an early age, Guagenti also moonlighted as a standout football player. His 6-4, 190 pound frame made him a standout tight end.
After suffering a pulled hamstring at last year’s Northwest Conference meet that nullified his postseason, Guagenti decided not to play football this past fall. He instead ran cross country where he managed a personal best of 18:30. His decision to abandon the gridiron was not favored by all.
“Some people supported me and some people didn’t,” Guagenti said. “They were disappointed I didn’t finish out my four years, but what are you going to do? It sounds selfish, but I had to put myself first for my future.”
His future is on the track. Bound for the University of Findlay where sprints will be his specialty again, Guagenti dropped nearly a full two seconds off his 400 time this spring. Last year his fastest 400 was 49.3. This year he ran a 47.46 at state to set a new meet record. His time was also just a tenth of a second away from the state record. Guagenti’s leg in the 4×200 relay was also pivotal in that foursome setting a new state and meet record in the event (1:28.47).
Guagenti’s sophomore year he was a member of the Pirates state championship 4×400 relay team.
“He’s been focused on track for a long time,” Bruskotter said. “Ever since he was a little kid this is what he’s been aiming for. I’m so proud of him and the fact that he’s been able to achieve the goals he set at such an early age.”
Said Guagenti: “I love running.”