This kid’s so fast, it’s sickening
Brad Gamble vomited four times during the Eagle Valley boys’ Colorado 3A state track victory. He puked once for each of his state titles.
Gamble had barely recovered from a groin injury and was fighting a whooping cough when he took his mark on the starting blocks at Dutch Clark Stadium on Friday and Saturday in Pueblo.
“I’ve heard from the coaches that I don’t have very good technique at all. (Laughs) So that sucks,” said Gamble. “I don’t like to run like the distance guys. Like, “Oh, well that guy’s crazy. He likes to run.’ I guess I just like to win. I like to beat people, and I just happen to be good at running. So, that’s why I like it. I guess I just like the competition.”
Gamble came home on Saturday night with four gold medals, including the 110 hurdles, the 300 hurdles, the long jump and the 400 relay, and a Colorado 3A state record in the 110 hurdles.
“At the very end, right when I crossed the finish line, I started into a cough. And, after each race I’d throw up,” said Gamble. “After the 110 hurdles I’d throw up, or just after the 100 I’d throw up. I didn’t matter what I did. I’d throw up because I couldn’t breathe that well.”
The Devils split the state title with D’Evelyn, as each team scored 78 points over the course of Friday and Saturday.
“My goal was to win four gold medals when I went to state. I knew I could. I was just hoping that everything would go the way I was hoping it would, and it did,” said Gamble.
Gamble ran his personal-best time when he broke the Colorado 3A state record for the 110 hurdles Friday in 14.37 seconds.
“I was feeling nervous that day, but I was ready to get it done. I wanted to run my best time to take some pressure off,” said Gamble. “I wanted to get a state record this weekend. It didn’t matter what (event) I did it in. I had a great race and got a lot of pressure taken off, getting that state record.”
Gamble wasn’t very confident about the race immediately after he finished.
“I actually felt like I didn’t run that good of a race. I hit a lot of hurdles, and I was used to the handheld times from regular meets being way off. So, when I got my handheld time, I was disappointed because I was guessing that I’d have to add a couple tenths of a second to the time, so I wouldn’t get the record,” said Gamble. “But, luckily, the handheld time was really close.”
When asked how it feels to be the fastest hurdler in Colorado 3A history, Gamble said he hadn’t really thought about it like that, but it was a nice and kind of a strange way to look at the feat.
Gamble’s first victory on Saturday came in the 110 hurdles. Dan Wood, from Manitou Springs, came in two tenths of a second behind Gamble in the 110 hurdles in preliminaries.
“Luckily, I beat him,” said Gamble.
Gamble’s second state title on Saturday came in the long jump, as he leaped 21 feet, 0.5 inches.
“I knew the D’Evelyn kid (Dustin Pittman). Luckily, he had a bad day. I didn’t jump as far as I was hoping, but, fortunately, he didn’t either,” said Gamble. “My best is 21 (feet), 6 (inches). I only jumped 21 feet. I was hoping to PR (set my personal record) and maybe get 22 feet, but I can’t have everything.”
Gamble admits the long jump is his cakewalk event compared to the physical stress and duration of his other specialties.
“It’s just fun to jump. It’s easier. There’s not as much pressure. It’s not nerve-wracking – you don’t get in blocks or anything. You just go and run and jump. It’s kind of simple,” said Gamble.
And when it comes to the hurdles, Gamble appreciates their obscurity and the technical perfection they require.
“Hurdles are kind of an intimidating thing. Not many people do that event because they can be very painful,” said Gamble. “I also like them because it separates me from other kids.”
Gamble looms a strong 6 feet, 2 inches above the track, and he says clearing the hurdles is not really an issue anymore.
“My freshman year is when it was tough to clear ’em. But now that I’ve got my technique better, I don’t even think about the hurdle really. I’m just thinking of how to get over it faster and faster each week,” said Gamble.
Distance running is not Gamble’s favorite pastime, but he does battle through a longer race in the 300 hurdles.
“The 110 is definitely a lot more technical. The person who wins is the person that has the best technique over the hurdles and overall sprinting speed,” said Gamble. “But in the 300, you need that sprint speed, and you need to be in shape. And you could tell by the end of the 300 race Saturday that I wasn’t in the best shape.
“I ran my first five hurdles in the 300 the best I have all season, and I feel if I didn’t have this cough, I would have been able to keep up that pace. And I feel I would have been able to get that state record.”
Gamble also ran the second leg on the state-champion 400-relay team – alongside Russell Allen, Wes Minett and Sean Matheson.
“It’s weird being able to outright sprint. In my hurdle races, I have hurdles to go over, so I can’t just floor it. And, it was a lot of fun being part of a team. It was a lot of pressure, but it was a lot of fun,” said Gamble. “I like being a part of the team, but I wouldn’t want to have more than one relay.”
Like Gamble, Matheson won four state titles for the Devils at state.
“Sean is an interesting character. He’s so good, and he’s the quietest guy you’ll ever meet in your life. He doesn’t show much emotion, but you can tell when he’s excited,” said Gamble. “I enjoy watching him run. He’s definitely a powerful runner. Sean’s the getting-it-done runner.”
Allen garnered two gold medals – in the 400 relay and the 800 relay – and picked up two more points for the team by taking seventh in the open 100.
“Russell’s more of a graceful runner. He just looks very fast. He looks very intimidating when he runs,” said Gamble. “He’s very smooth, and everything’s moving quick.”
Minett also earned golds in the 400 and 800 relays, and he also picked up two points with a seventh in the open 400.
“Wes is a very smooth runner. You can definitely tell he’s a 400 runner just by his running technique alone because he has a great technique. The 100 definitely isn’t his race because he can keep his 100 pace throughout a 400, basically,” said Gamble. “He’s very fun to watch. He looks like you’re watching a technique video.”
Gamble likes to sprint. He says he feels like he’s flying sometimes in the middle of a 100.
“I really like the spikes. If you’re just running in regular tennis shoes, you feel slower. But when you’re running in spikes, you feel like you’re flying,” said Gamble.
The level of competition is what most inspires Gamble to excel on the track.
“I can definitely feel it. Last week at regionals – for long jump – I was winning up until the last jump in finals. And then the kid in front of me ripped off a 21 (feet), 2 (inches), so he was beating me. I didn’t want to lose, and I wasn’t jumping good all day, and I jumped a 21 feet, 3-and-a-half inches. He wasn’t too happy about it,” said Gamble.
As for the Devils overall victory, Gamble says that it means more to him than any of his individual accomplishments.
“That is just awesome. You know, it’s one of those things you dream about – winning the thing with a team. It’s never happened in Eagle Valley history for the track program,” said Gamble. “Like six years ago, there were four kids going to state, and now, this year, we won state. It’s amazing how much the program has improved.”
Gamble believes Eagle Valley coach Jeff Schroll has had a lot to do with the championship.
“He’s just such a nice guy. Everyone gets along with him,” said Gamble.
Gamble remembers Matheson’s title-clinching victory in the 200 with fondness.
“I think most of us, deep down, knew that Sean would come through. So I wasn’t really nervous,” said Gamble. “We were all kind of in shock. It didn’t really hit us that we’d won until after a while. I’m not even sure if it has hit me yet because it’s such a great accomplishment.
“Alex (Gamble’s younger brother) and I rode home with our parents, and we were just talking about how it was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Gamble would like to follow in his older brother’s footsteps – Chris Gamble is a decathlete at Hastings College – by competing in track at a collegiate level. And, Gamble says he will always reflect on this past weekend as one of the great times of his life.
“It was a job well done by everyone. It’s just so rare to get a team championship,” said Gamble. “If I was a senior, that would make my career complete. But I still have another year to go, so hopefully we can get another one.”
Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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