To say Ben Kelly was exhausted would be an understatement.
He was running the final lap of the 4x400-meter relay Saturday, the fifth race he had run in two days at the Class 3Aregional, and he appeared to be fading fast.
With 100 meters to go, Mount Spokane’s Roy Hyatt had a 15-meter lead and Kamiakin’s Jim Fowler was closing on the Hanford speedster.
But then Kelly showed why he is one of the state’s best this season, finding a higher gear and blowing past everyone to win the relay, the team title and a fourth gold medal.
“Honestly, in the last 100, I didn’t think I had anything left,” he said. “The closer I got, I just went for it. It was crazy.”
Crazy might be an understatement. It’s not often that a mile relay race comes down to the final 10 meters, but Kelly’s will and determination made it happen.
“I started speeding up because I could hear the Kamiakin guy right behind me,” Kelly said. “The closer I got to the Mt. Spokane guy, I realized I could catch him and I just gave it everything I’ve got.”
That was plenty good enough as Hanford won the relay in 3:24.91. Kelly also won the 100, 200 and long jump on the weekend, advancing to next weekend’s state meet in Tacoma.
The Falcons won the team title with 146 points, knocking off Mt. Spokane, which had 112.5.
Kelly had never won a regional title until this weekend, and then he had one of the best meets in school history.
“It’s been a long day,” he said. “It is a great feeling. Being able to get it is amazing.”
Kelly wasn’t the only winner for Hanford, though, as Dallon Grinder won titles in the shot put and discus, and Daniel Pfaff grabbed gold in the high jump.
Pfaff cleared 6 feet to win his title, though he was hoping to go a bit higher. He has been dealing with nagging leg injuries throughout the season, but said he feels fully healthy now.
“I think I can get 6-4,” he said. “I cleared it in practice. I have high hopes — right now, (my health) is all good.”
Grinder wasn’t necessarily pleased with his marks, but he certainly enjoyed winning twice.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “I know I can throw better in both. I’ve got one more track meet and I’ll make it count.”
He won the shot put with a throw of 53-1.25 after winning the discus (162-6) on Friday.
Joining Kelly on the winning relay were Austin Kitchens, Porter McMichael and Seth Cook.
The seven gold medals combined to bring home the regional title and give the Falcons confidence going into next week’s state meet.
“This is definitely a big deal,” Kelly said. “We know North Central and Mt. Spokane are (some) of the top competitors in the state, since we are right there with them, we know we have a legit chance of winning the state title.”