By Jeremy McDonald
GRESHAM, Ore.– The first two laps of the race, Stayton’s Ben Kirby paced himself in the back of the pack observing what was playing out in front of him.
In a matter of fact, it was a big group he was running with that gave the Eagle Junior some nerves entering the third lap before he flipped off the cruise control and put the medal to the pedal.
“My goal was to hang with the pack and the last couple of laps see what I can do and that’s what I did, it got me in second,” said Kirby. “The first couple of laps I was nervous, this is a really big pack I didn’t know if I could catch up. I just went for it and finishing second was great. I’m looking forward towards next year.”
In a field of 12, all clumped up together through the first two laps, Kirby sat around ninth give or take a spot in either direction. But by the end of the third lap and the bell sounding, the Stayton distance runner was in fifth and hunting down first-place.
Coming around the bend for the final 100, Kirby passed Newport’s Leo Jones for second and was within striking distance of State winner Gabe Garboden from Marist.
The thought of Friday’s disappointment of not reaching the 800 meter final pushed the Eagle runner to leave it all out there entering his senior season.
“I just really wanted it today. After yesterday and not making it to finals for the 800 (meters), I really wanted to do something today,” said Kirby. “It helped me especially the last 100 because I just didn’t want to feel disappointed and just leaving everything out there on the track.”
Kirby came 1.27 seconds of the Spartan Senior when they crossed the finish line of the State Title Saturday afternoon at Mt. Hood Community College. Kirby PR’d with a time of 4:06.9 and finished tenth in the 800 meter run.
Stayton also brought home another State Runner-Up in sophomore Joshua Belliard. The State newbie had his head swimming walking out to the blocks, but he overcame the environment to finish second in the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.29.
“I just felt like everyone else knew what they were doing and I didn’t. I was super nervous back there in the tent and they were yelling at me and stuff,” described Belliard of the environment. “But I did well. I just got to work harder, I was kind of lazy this year. I didn’t eat well this year, if I take care of myself next year hopefully I’ll get first.”
Alissa Humpherys finished fifth in the girls 100 meter dash and was seventh in the 200 meter dash.