By Keith Harrington
Heading into the shoot for the stretch run in eighth place, Amber Gibbs had one thought drifting through her mind. The Granville senior knew that if she didn’t sprint hard to the finish line and pass several runners, her high school career was over. Gibbs did just that.
The two-time Adirondack League champion and Most Valuable Runner put together the best final kick of her career to blow past four runners to place fourth at the Section II Class C meet Saturday at Queensbury High School. With the finish Gibbs is headed to the New York State meet for the second consecutive year.
“Thank God it’s not my last meet. I was scared that’s what today was going to be,” a relieved Gibbs said after her race. “A friend’s coach told me that I was in eighth. And in my mind, I was like, okay. I knew I had to kick.”
Gibb’s coach Tim Best could not hide his emotions when speaking about the performance of his standout runner.
“I was in tears when she came across the finish line. I’m going to miss her next year,” Best stated. “She wanted to make states in the worst way. I’ve never seen her finish like that. She passed four girls in the final 100 meters, and if she didn’t she wouldn’t be going to states.”
Even though her coach and family were concerned as Gibbs headed for home, she admitted that she was sizing up the runners in front of her the entire time.
“Those girls, I knew if I kept up with them and kept pace with them for the majority of the run I could catch them in the end,” Gibbs added.
Gibbs navigated the course in a time of 20:21.5.
Schuylerville sophomore Adeline Ballou claimed the Class C crown in 20:07.4. Vorrheesville runners Shayla Hyman (20:17.0) and Savannah Schmidt (20:17.6) finished second and third.
Even though her career is coming to a close Gibbs has fond memories of her time competing for Granville, and during the Adirondack League season Granville-Whitehall cross country.
“I think this year has been my favorite year. I had a lot of PRs this year. And I put in the most effort this year with it being my last,” Gibbs explained. “Running at Granville has been one of my favorite things. It’s a very welcoming team. Even if we don’t have the big numbers like some teams we still share a really tight bond.”
Best could not say enough about what Gibbs has meant to the Granville program.
“She’s been the heart and soul of our team for the last six years. I’ve watched her grow from being a little kid on modified to being the league champion the last two years now and second time going to states,” Best said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her. She’s worked hard and now she’s reaping the benefits.”
Gibbs is undecided about running in college, but if she chooses to continue her career she will have plenty of coaches knocking on her door. For now, however, she will set her sights on her return trip to the state championship meet next Saturday at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School.
“Top 30. I think that would be my goal,” Gibbs concluded.