By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.– A year ago Clement Afterbuffalo walked away from the sport of Track a few races into his Chemawa Track and Field career. Fast forward a year later and Afterbuffalo found himself with a smile on his face and pride coming from him as he completes his sophomore season with two podium visits in his two events he qualified for at Hayward Field for the 3A State Track Meet.
“I should have done Track more often last year, I could have placed last year if I didn’t quit but this year I got more active at it and kept at the long distance,” said Afterbuffalo about this year. “It’s really exciting and I’m ready to come next year and try to get a better place at State.”
To get his second medal, Afterbuffalo overcame a quick start and quick pull of a trigger to finding himself sitting in third-place after the opening lap.
But, as quickly as he got to the front he saw himself back of the pack with 200 meters to go with only one-or-two guys behind him. Having never done Cross Country before, Afterbuffalo had the look, and kick, of a guy with a few years of Cross Country experience under him as he slowly picked athlete’s off in front of him as he crossed the finish-line.
One-by-one the names appeared by last name and school: Klus of Burns, Casalino of Oregon Episcopal, Murphy of Pleasant Hill, Lewis of Cascade Christian, Lim of Santiam Christian, Deiter of Lakeview, Maslen of Catlin Gabel. One spot remained as Afterbuffalo was catching his breath when his last named appeared in the eighth and final spot on the Jumbotron at Hayward Field.
He beat Taft’s Preston Nightingale by 0.62 of a second to podium.
“Just trying to keep my pace like I always do and trying to push yourself at the end, two laps and get a better place,” said Afterbuffalo as he reflects the experience in the 1,500 for next season. “It was a lot, now I know how to run it next years and how to set my pace.”
Loya was described as an athlete who followed the mantra of, “To Never Give Up” and always try your best and has always shown that through his years competing in the colors of the Braves.
Athlete’s across the PacWest Conference knew him and respected him as he would talk with fellow athlete’s from his conference before and after the race that they just had ran.
“I’ve been trying my hardest, every day I would go out to practice and I get mad some days, (but) I have good days and I got bad days,” smiled Loya. “With the bad days, you just got to stop what you’re doing and put it away and come back out tomorrow and try it again.
With a build like a High School Linebacker, Loya holds three school records at Chemawa with one of them he broke again Friday afternoon with the Javelin when he threw a 148-feet-9.5-inches right after he broke it earlier this season when he threw 146-feet-seven-inches at the Regis Twilight Invitational on May 4 as Loya finished seventh in the 3A Javelin Throw.
“Oh it’s pretty awesome, I broke another record at the end of the year with me with the current record that probably won’t be broken for a while,” said Loya with some excitement about the accomplishment as he wrapped up his High School Career. “So I’m pretty hyped about it.”
As he hangs up his track cleats for the last time, Loya found it hard to describe the legacy he is leaving for future Chemawa-athlete’s that will walk through the doors of the school from different regions of the country like Arizona where Loya is from or Montana where Afterbuffalo is from.
But agree’s with his coach when she mentions the mantra of “Never Give Up” and always try your best.