Gamble stumbles, then triumphs at state |

Gamble stumbles, then triumphs at state

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyJacob Rivera of Eagle Valley tosses a 48' 7" in the shot put during the second Flight in the State Track and Field Championships Saturday at Legacy Field.

AURORA There was nothing to say. Every spectator in the packed bleachers at Legacy Stadium could see Brad Gamble’s pain. The lull of silence that accompanied the finish of the 110-meter hurdles final Saturday at the 4A state meet had a distinct tone to it – the sound of utter disappointment. Gamble, hoping to break 4A state-meet records in both hurdles finals, was well on his way in the first of his two events. He was nearly a full hurdle length ahead of the rest of the field coming into the final three jumps in the 110. Then, his trailing left leg clipped the top of the third-to-last hurdle. The misstep caused him to graze the following hurdle and lose all cadence. As the senior clumsily leaped over the final hurdle – nearly falling down at one point – he was overtaken by Thompson Valley’s Zach Jordan, Mountain View’s Ben Yeh and Alamosa’s Josh Streeter.What initially appeared to be a dream race had quickly turned into a nightmare – a forgettable fourth-place time of 14.77 seconds.There was nothing to say, but Gamble spoke anyway.He vowed to win the 300 hurdles final.

Less than three hours later, Gamble yelled out in triumph as he streaked across the finish line for the last time as an Eagle Valley Devil. He won the 300 hurdles with ease, cruising to a personal-best time of 37.19, and essentially erasing the memory of the 110 disaster.The photo on the cover tells the story best.Afterward, Gamble did cartwheels in the stadium infield to the cheers of the Eagle Valley fans on hand and smiled uncontrollably between sound bytes. The 10 points gave the boys’ team a final total of 37, good for ninth overall. Gamble didn’t break any of the state-meet records on which he had set his sights, but after a topsy-turvy day, the closing win was plenty.”It feels so good,” he said. “Before the race, I told myself, ‘I have to win. I don’t want to leave high school and not have a 4A championship.’ Obviously it’s a bummer with the 110, but things happen. That’s part of the game – handling defeat and handling victory.”Lucky 14The win upped Gamble’s state medals total to 14 in four years of state competition.

He picked up No. 11 Friday, finishing fifth in the long jump. After unlucky No. 12 in the 110 final, No. 13 came via a fourth-place time of 42.82 in the 400 relay with teammates Wes Minett, Sean Matheson and brother, Alex. The time was seven-hundredths of a second faster than the group’s preliminary qualifying time Friday, and just 39-hundredths back of state champion, Mullen, which edged out Longmont in a photo finish. The Mustangs ran a 42.43, just a blink ahead of the Trojans’ 42.46.The Longmont team actually celebrated as if it had won at the finish, while the Mullen squad stalked off in disappointment.Minett said the final result was a good one for the team, which earned state gold at the 3A meet last season.”We knew everyone was going to be pretty close,” Minett said. “It was a lot of fun. I’m just glad to run with all of these guys – especially Alex and Brad in their senior year.”Rivera worth a perfect 10

Adding to the points total for the boys team again Saturday was Jacob Rivera, who threw 48 feet, 5 inches in the shot put final to finish seventh. The junior wasn’t expecting to place in the weaker of his two throwing events after finishing second in the discus Friday.”I just wanted to make finals,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting anything, so I’m happy that I placed.”Rivera also mentioned that having now seen the competition at the 4A state level, he plans to train with renewed vigor next year in what will be his final season. “I’ve just got work on the fundamentals all year,” he said. “I really didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing at the beginning of the year, then I finally got back into it.”Junior Jon Gabriel had similar remarks after competing in Saturday’s finals in triple jump and high jump. Gabriel failed to score in either of the two, jumping 41-11 in the triple and clearing the bar at 6 feet in the high jump.

He said the 40-foot run-up board at Legacy Stadium gave him problems, having been accustomed to a 32-foot board. He jumped two feet farther at regionals in Grand Junction the week before.”If I would have changed that, maybe I would have gone further,” he said. “My legs felt fine, I just didn’t go the distance. The competition is far higher here than the region I compete in. After you come here, you realize there’s way more competition. I want to work harder next year and go farther and higher in all of my jumping events.”Girls struggle SaturdayAfter a first-place finish at regionals, the Lady Devils failed to score a point Saturday, finishing out the top-10. The 3,200 relay team of Jessica Medsker, Sasha Pickslay, Jessica Stiles and Kenzie Shreeve finished 18th with a time of 10:34.06. Amy Thompson also failed to score in the discus after earning a trip to regionals last weekend by throwing beyond the state-qualifying mark. Shroll said he was proud of both of his teams and proud of his group of seniors. The entire team’s spirit, he said, was illustrated best by Gamble’s triumphant performance in his final event.

“That was awesome,” he said. “It’s good to see him bounce back from that. I couldn’t be happier for Brad. After what happened in the 110, to come and get it back in the 300, I’m very proud of him.”I couldn’t be any prouder. We did great as a team. We got a top-10 finish, and we scored some key points for the girls. There’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.”Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at npeterson@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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