For my brothers:
When Mat was a freshman, he turned out for the track team. It seemed like a natural choice; the fourth of five children both of his older sisters and brother had run track. Running seemed to be in his blood. There was a difference between his older siblings track experiences and his own, however; in the years since his siblings had graduated Mat’s parents had moved him and younger brother, Marcus, to a nearby city. His siblings had ran for one of the biggest schools in the state that produced huge teams were there was never a lack of people to compete in events or form relay teams (most relays had so many athletes there would be an A and a B team).
Mat found himself running for a school that hadn’t won a league meet in years and didn’t even have people competing all the races. He wanted to put together a 4 by 400 meter relay team. On meet days, he would walk up and down the bleachers imploring team mates and friends to run with him. Nobody showed much enthusiasm for participating Finally, he convinced two good friends of his, twin brothers Collin and Kramer, to give it a shot.
Along with another friend and fellow track runner, they began to run together as sophomores. They experienced some success qualifying for sub districts and just missing the cut offs for districts meets.
At the beginning of the 2009 track season, Mat’s younger brother, Marcus, joined the team as a freshman. He didn’t have to go around begging for people to run with him, but he did end up snagging the fourth spot on the relay team and for the next two years the pair of brothers had quite an adventure.
They coordinated the purchase of their running spikes with brothers from each family buying a pair of gold shoes and a pair of maroon shoes. Conveniently, each brother wore the same size as his respective brother so they swapped shoes and each boy had one gold and one maroon running spike. Around and around the track these shoes flew, leaving waves of change in their wake.
Along with other runners, the feel of the track team began to change. For the first time in thirty-nine years, the their team took the league track title. The boys with the shoes shattered a thirty-one year school record in their relay with a time of 3:25.28, which they continued to better throughout the next season.
More remarkable then their success time wise, however, was the bond between the boys. Each set of brothers would say that their brother is their best friend. Mathew, Collin, and Kramer had been good friends since the beginning of high school and a strong friendship developed between the twins and Marcus when he joined the team. They relied on each other and were truly a team. Before each race, officials ask for the anchor leg of each relay to put a number on their shorts. Upon this request, Collin (the anchor for their team) would reply,
“We like to think we don’t have an anchor, we have four sails.”
Where other schools may have a deep pool to draw runners from and change their relay throughout the year, experimenting with different orders, these four boys just had one strategy. Run, as hard as they could, every race. And it paid off.
For the majority of the 2010 track season they possessed the fastest time in Washington 3A track.
They headed into state with high expectations, but were realistic. There were many teams within tenths of seconds of their best times and then in the state preliminaries they were beat for the first time all season, sending them into the finals with the second fastest time. While other teams rearranged their orders, the boys with the different color shoes, kept their line-up and hand offs the same as they had always been. They would run state just as they ran every other race, as hard as they could.
The finals came on an overcast Saturday afternoon. The field was tight. Kramer went out fast and handed it off to Marcus right where they should be. Marcus made up the stagger on the first corner and came out in first. Marcus handed it off to older brother Mathew who ran as hard as he could. When he handed it to Collin they were in third, but in striking distance. Collin tried to make a move on the backstretch, but was held off and then as they rounded the corner into the last hundred yards he tried again and passed the second place team. First place was probably ten yards ahead and was going strong. Every step Collin made, however, seemed to be eating up a little bit of the distance between him and the runner in front of him. There was no question he was gaining, but was there enough time? The crowd rose to its feet, the noise in the stadium deafening. With three yards left to go, they were neck and neck, but with one final push forward and a thrust of the shoulders Collin came out victorious clinching the state champion title for the team of brothers.
Throughout the post season it was noted that the track team in general seemed to have a large and very loud cheering section. There is now have a list of boys wanting to get on the relay team and more athletes on the team then there have been in years. It would be presumptuous to assume that these four boys made the difference on their own, and they certainly never would make such a claim themselves, but it can’t be denied that the four sails helped to give this track program some much needed spirit and hopefully a push off the shore that will last for a long time.Their determination, hard work, and just genuine, well niceness for a lack of a better word, certainly impacted their families and friends as evidenced by the large crowd waited to greet them after their final race.