We had a vested interest in yesterday’s Buffet Middle School Invitational XC Meet.  His name is Jack.  Jack Runde.  Sam’s younger brother.  Now the best runner in Beveridge Middle School history.  I’ve told everyone that would listen that Jack has the potential to be an even better runner than his sibling.  What I saw during the race yesterday brings that declaration more clarity.  It went something like this:

“Are you in this to win this?”  “Yes!”  Jack immediately to the lead at the gun’s crack.  One fella stride for stride, a small pack of three a few steps off.  The first challenge came up the huge hill heading to mile 1.  Jack and the other thinclad trading half step leads up the entirety of the climb.  Just prior to the crest runner #2 stopped, hands on knees, completely gassed.  Challenge one dispatched.

Watching the silhouettes run along the far ridge I commented on how much Jack’s stride has lengthened during the past year’s growth spurt.  Another good sign.  The chase pack not gaining, not losing ground.  They followed some 5 meters back for the next mile,  deciding the minor places among themselves.

Jack looked like a man among boys.  Strong, powerful, and confident.  With less than a mile to go the chase pack rallied together to track him down.  Caught him with 1200 meters to go, but the cost was too great.  Jack shook it out and then shook them off with a final move.  I shouted that he would still need his kick and it was there when called upon.  Finished looking like a champion.

This has been my 6th year to work with Jack (& Sam) and I’ve never been so proud of him.  His dedication to the workouts over the summer showed me he is ready to make his own mark.  To write the Bulldog record books.  To show up at Burke’s doorstep next year and join his brother for what can only be imagined as a very special season.

The last 300 meters on the track (had Jack wear trainers instead of spikes) and the race still up to who wanted it the most.  Jack ended up leading wire to wire thanks to a devastating kick.   Another thing that bolsters my hope for his future, a close race that he refused to lose.