Eagle Valley’s Gamble is a safe bet
GYPSUM – Brad Gamble’s got a secret. On Saturday at the state meet in Denver, all eyes will be on the taut 6-foot-2 senior. He is the No. 1-ranked hurdler in 4A. He’s the favorite to win gold in both the 110-meter hurdles and 300 hurdles, and is also a contender for medals in the long jump and the 400 relay.Gamble comes out with it.”I’m more nervous than I’ve ever been for this meet,” he says Tuesday in Gypsum. “Hopefully, confidence will have some effect. Hopefully, it will make me run faster. We’ll see what happens.”Don’t get Gamble’s words mixed up. He’s nervous for good reason. His is the kind of anxious energy that engulfs an athlete as one prepares to accomplish something great – a sixth sense, so to speak.Gamble not only wants to win the 110 and the 300, he wants to break the 4A state-meet record in the latter by running his fastest time ever. Gold isn’t the goal. Gamble won four of them at the 3A state meet last year en route to a team championship. This time he wants to win again and put his name in the record books. He wants to run a faster 300 than any 4A hurdler ever has.He’s buzzing, just thinking about it.”I think that’s my best event,” Gamble says of the 300. “My goal is to get the state-meet record. I think it’d be fun. In the hurdles, I’d like to win both. In long jump, I’d like to place and jump over 22 feet. I don’t think I can win gold in that this year because there’s a kid from Longmont who is jumping 23 feet. That’s going to be hard to reach. … I’m nervous just thinking about it all.”
Last weekend at regionals in Grand Junction, Gamble broke both of his personal bests in the hurdles, running 14.17 seconds in the 110 and a 37.39 in the 300. He finished second in the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 10.75 inches. The 400 relay team, which features Gamble’s twin brother, Alex, and sprinters Sean Matheson and Wes Minett, won gold with a time of 43.55.It’s safe to say the competition will know who Gamble is when they square off against him Thursday, Friday and Saturday – especially in the 300.Gamble may be thinking more about the timer’s clock than of his opposition, however. The possibility of the state-meet record is placed snugly at the front of his thoughts.Brighton’s Derek Applewhite set the current 4A state-meet record in 1998, running the 300 in 36.82. Bear Creek’s Gerren Crochet holds the overall state-meet record, running a 36.41 in 2001 to win the 5A 300 crown. Gamble has never broken the 37-second barrier before in a race, but Eagle Valley coach Jeff Shroll believes he can do it.”Winning comes easy to him, but his goals don’t come easy,” Shroll says. “If he wanted to jog through these things and get first place every time, that would be easy for him. But he’s set some standards and goals that are incredible. He’s his own toughest critic. He wants it. He wants to run under a 37.”Next hurdleNext year, Gamble will attend Hastings College in Nebraska on a track scholarship. He says he sees himself possibly becoming a decathlete or a pentathlete.
The transition would be a natural one, since the calling card for both events is athleticism and speed. Watch Gamble compete, and it’s obvious he has both. He’s got drive, too, like Paris Hilton has new boyfriends.All three qualities helped him as a four-year, three-sport athlete – one of only six to graduate this weekend from Eagle Valley.This fall, he returned kicks and punts for the Eagle Valley football team and went both ways as a receiver and a defensive back. He skied on the Nordic team in the winter months.Track is his favorite sport, he says. The oval and the jumping pit are the arenas where he feels he can showcase his natural talents best. And, when he’s not competing, he can enjoy the company of his teammates.”I’m sort of a dork,” he says, smiling. “I’m a leader, but sometimes I don’t always lead in the right direction.”He’s joking, of course. He says one of the keys to the Devils’ success is working hard, but having fun while doing it. “Definitely, I think when you have a great team, it helps everyone to work harder and keep getting better and not letting anyone down,” he says. “Track is a fun sport. You get to socialize and goof around.”
Shroll says he’ll be holding back tears this weekend as he cheers on Gamble and the rest of his senior leaders. The state meet is the pinnacle of the season, but it’s much more than that. It’s also the final goodbye.”For me personally, it will be emotional,” Shroll says. “Watching these great athletes, who I also consider my good friends, almost family, running in their last meet and then moving on – it will be tough. I’m happy for them, but it will be emotional as well. I get teary-eyed thinking about it.” Shroll then speaks specifically of the brothers Gamble.”Both (Brad) and Alex, they’re just so dang fun to have on the team,” he says. “They’ve got great work ethics. They make you laugh. They’re just great runners.”Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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