While waiting to stand on the podium for the last time, Mohawk distance runner Drew Trusty was being interviewed by a pair of area reporters. In the process of thanking his coach, his teammates, the crowd, Trusty suddenly looked one of the reporters in the eye and sent a compliment his way.
"You've followed me for four years," Trusty said. "I thank you for that."
The only thing more notable than Trusty's abilities on the track is his graciousness off of it.
Don't get me wrong, most of the athletes at the state track meet are courteous, willing to talk and friendly. But Trusty's friendliness was getting him notice from a number of the reporters at the meet. Sure, they may have looked at him first because of his odd Mohawk haircut. But after that, his personality is what impressed them. Trusty also stopped to talk with a relay runner on his way off the grass, then shook hands with every member of the Hopewell-Loudon 4 x 400 team.
I was half-expecting him to help an old lady off the track before he reached his teammates.
"It's gonna be sad to see somebody like that go," Mohawk coach Brock Cleveland said. "This whole senior class ... they work their tails off, and hopefully the guys underneath them can see what kind of kids ... to look up to those boys, the Parkers (Kyle and Craig) ... they work their tails off every day, and you can't say enough about them."
Trusty is going to run at Malone next season, a Division II school. He leaves with every Mohawk distance record, except the 800.
But in the end, what you remember as a writer is the way an athlete acts after a race or game. He wasn't the only one who was impressive this weekend. Columbian's Autumn Nichols was gracious after not making finals, keeping her head up and assessing what she did and didn't do well. Seneca East's Ashton Daniel was obviously down about missing the podium in the shot put, but just moments after the event was over, talked about it and sounded confident about a return next year.
They say the state track meet, the pinnacle of the high school track and field season, brings out the best in athletes.
I always assumed they meant between the lines. But athletes like Trusty, Nichols, Daniel and others having me thinking the phrase has a deeper meaning.
It's something I think we all can learn from.
Zach Baker is Associate Sports Editor for The A-T.
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