There are the rare few who know the feeling of winning a race, of coming in first. An equal number know the feeling of coming in last. Dead last.
Calvary Christian School teammates Neil Goalstone Jr. and Anthony Valdez learned the latter as they raced to the finish line at the Southern Divisional Cross Country Championships on a crisp October morning in Bunker Park. (The regional championships for 4A or large schools are scheduled for today in Boulder City, and the state championships are run there on Nov. 4.)
After the three-mile race, they dropped to the ground to catch their breath, but their rest was interrupted by the voice of Neil's father: "You guys need to train."
"I hate track," came his son's exhausted reply. "It was fun until now."
Three of the four members of the Calvary Christian team started training only two weeks before the championship meet on Saturday . They joined out of comradeship, to keep their friend, Dominic Byrnes, company on the team.
And like any good friend, Byrnes teased back, "They just didn't want to do any electives." But why would kids put themselves through daily two-mile runs and what Valdez says was an "embarrassing and disgraceful" performance? Why participate in a sport where your coach (who is also the football coach, and, well, there are priorities to consider) only tells you, "Just go run and we'll see you when you get back"?
While Goalstone says he just enjoys being with his friends, Valdez is a little more introspective: "It makes me happy. I get a real happiness from finishing a race."
And that can be just as satisfying as winning.