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Stunned by the Track
Track & Field season had finally arrived. It was a humid, bright, and sunny day in May of my junior year of high school. It was hot as the devil’s toenail, and I worked hard enough all season to qualify in the state track meet in a town full of sports departments and friendly people, Pearl, MS.
While arriving and unloading the bus, there were multiple events before mine, so I avoided the sun, continued to pray, and watched the track-stars run like the wind pulling them forward.
Teams from numerous schools danced around the entire day like they had ants in their pants being jubilant and gleeful. Around 3 p.m., the coaches announced that all AA boys of my event had to check in under a blue tent by their name.
After putting a check by my name, my heart boiled and pounded as my body roared with thunder. In my mind was a picture of me standing on that podium receiving my medal as I crossed the field to the starting line.
On the way I buzzed in Demarrion H’s ear and stated, “Good luck, Speedy Gonzales, ‘cause I know this is a piece of cake to you!” With words singing from his heart, he answered, “Good luck to you also, Jesse Owens, hopefully we all receive a medal today, my guy.”
The official screamed for attention and was prepared to fire the gun. In lane three, I was praying to the important man upstairs and listening for the explosion sound of the gun.
Finally, the sound of fireworks grabbed my ears as everyone flew past the first ten meters of the starting line like roadrunners. I was still flustered about winning.
Pacing myself and running to the best of my ability, my mind was made up that third place belonged all to me. Barely breathing, I slowed down during the last five meters of the race. Glancing over my shoulder, one of my opponents scampered by within a blink of an eye.
Eager to win, we finished third at the same time. The coach broadcasted the third place winner. Knowing that my race was over, my smile stretched for miles and I stumbled to the nearby cooler for cold water. I waited to hear my name be called to stand on the podium for third place, but the seconds stretched on and still nothing. I realized that I did not win third place and the defeat annoyed me as I went ballistic yelling, “No ‘darn way!” In despite of my goal, everything did not go as planned so I raged with anger.
I shook my opponents’ hands and gave them a thumbs-up for positive sportsmanship, such as, “Good run”, “Good job”, or them giving me a high-five. My smile was my facade, I was definitely incensed because my ambition was to finish within the top three. Unfortunately, I had to reluctantly accept fourth place.
From that point, I looked into my future and decided that I will keep striving for excellence and never give up or cut myself any slack. My feet hammered the concrete as I trotted back to my bus and I promised myself, “I will return next year!”