Wednesday, May 2, 2007

An Unreal Experience

It's been almost four days now, and so I feel that I am composed enough to try and describe the events of this Saturday. Winning the NESCAC championship (techincally a tie, but we still have the trophy) was something that I had been striving for when I arrived at school. I wanted to beat Williams so badly in track, since that was my season, and our XC dominance of them was immediate and often repeated. We came close a number of times, and lost one of our closest challenges on our home track, which is always devastating. This win was almost totally unexpected and came in true team fashion, with only a couple of event wins and lots of scrapping for points.

The excitement was building throughout the day, and with each passing event we seemed to increase or maintain our lead. By the time we got to the 5000m we were still winning the meet and that was factoring in their 1-2-3 finish in the 200m. That's when it hit people that we had a legit shot at taking this meet. Obviously I was a total emotional wreck for the next hour plus, trying to cheer on all my teammates and also getting ready for my own race (the last of the meet).

Going into my race, the DMR, winning by four points after the flase start debacle was a really good feeling. We were within reah and the meet was coming down to us four remaining relay men. The whole league was behind us, and numerous athletes from other teams came up to me before the DMR went off and wished me luck. The entirety of the race all the other teams were screaming for our runners, cheering us on as if we were their own teammates. For that one race, with Williams on the brink of defeat everyone was united behind us. It was an incredible feeling, having every single person pulling for you. This of course culminated in the anchor leg when we needed to move up two places to tie with only two teams within reach of our rookie miler.
With 400m to go he moved past one of our opponents. With 300m to go he passed the other. The crowd was going ballistic. I was about to shit my pants for the fourth time in the last 20 minutes. I went to the top of the home stretch and got ready to scream, feeling that if only I could yell loud enough I could propel Jesse to victory. The crowd had lined the track down the homestretch and was just outside lane 2. With 150m to go, the last barrier between us and victory, the Middlebury anchor leg made a huge surge and moved out to pass. The crowd down the final 100m backed up ever so slighty while jacking the decibel level of the outdoor track to an absurd amount. Jesse responded and they came around the corner neck and neck. I screamed. I cheered. I made as much unintelligible noise as I possibly could. They were stride for stride. He HAD to hold this guy off. There was no way that we could be this close and then lose in the final 50m to the host team, right? That just couldn't happen.

It didn't. He held him off. We hadn't lost. Victory was ours, at long last.

Despite having just run a 400m mere minutes ago, I took off running as hard as I could down the infield to mob Jesse and embrace the rest of the team. I don't even remember the next 10 minutes very well. We chanted his name and lifted him up, there were tears and hugs and screaming and disbelief and general bedlam. We took infinite photos and got congratulations from everyone it seemed.

To work for something for so long and to come close so many times and fail, to finally achieve that goal is one of the most rewarding things I think you can be a part of as a person. And to do it in the fashion that we did it, with the guys that we had out there means so much to me, especially since it was my last shot. Looking at the pictures and staring at the trophy just reminds me that all the hard work, the long hours, the sacrifices that each and every guy put into this team all year were worth it. That my leadership may have made some sort of a difference. It was truly an inspiring performance and one that I will not soon forget. I can only hope that any of the underclassmen that were there fighting it out with us seniors recognize the gravity of that win for us, for the team, and for themselves. I honeestly feel like this was a turning point for the program, especially with all the young talent we have, and that this could be the start of a long series of wins.

Even if it isn't, no one can dispute the fact that we will forever be 2007 NESCAC
Champions!

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