It was a great day for racing. With 35 teams from all over the state, the competition was tough. We knew that going in. But we also knew that Trey Fisher was running hot. He had bagged two impressive wins in a row and we couldn't help but work toward another. Trey was primed and ready to enter the fray.
And he did. Starting off toward the back of the top 20, he had some work to do. When the first major hill loomed ahead, he systematically worked his way through the crowd, joining the compact front group of three by the time he topped out. Carefully guarding his line on the tight corners, Trey ran wisely across the flat and surged on the downhill. Soon, he overtook the duo in front and carried the lead through the middle mile. My own heart pounded with excitement as I raced between vantage points on the course to view his form floating across the ground, wind in his hair.
But the second and third runners were not content to trail behind. The battle ensued as they overtook my harrier in the last mile. Still, relentlessly pursuing, every muscle fiber contracted as he fought to close the gap. Down the hill he flew, gravel crunching under his feet. A tight right turn around a tree, limbs brushed aside in the process. He speeds along a fence row. Now a turn to the left. A final 90-degree corner is all that stands between the last 100 meters of turf to the finish line. Running full out, Trey had an impressive 3rd place finish in hand. Or so we thought. . .
I looked up just in time to see my runner turn and head back toward the oncoming runners. I was confused. What happened? A gap in the bright orange tape marking the tight turn fooled Trey into taking an inside line. Facing disqualification, he had no choice but to turn about and proceed on the outside of the flag. The merciless clock continued to tick. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. A runner from behind now inherited Trey's earned spot. Frantically, valiantly, he fought to overtake those in front. He could not. His finish position was 5th.
I patted him on the back, briefly blabbed the standard things that coaches say, and gave him some time to process what had just happened. He had to be disappointed, perhaps even angry. I watched as he continued through the narrow, twisting finish shoot. Smiling, he extended congratulations to those in front. Then he worked his way through the crowd, standing aside with a few family and friends. He made no excuses. He did not stomp or scowl. He did not whine. He did not complain. He simply shook his head and shoulder shrugged before heading off to collect his thoughts and a few cool-down miles.
Arriving back at the school hours later, Trey approached. "Coach, I have something to ask you. Did I handle myself okay today? I didn't want to ruin my testimony."
The answer was easy. "Yes, Trey. You handled yourself just fine."
Well done, Trey. Well done. Your heavenly audience loudly applauds.