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Hands down, the most amazing meet I have been to. This meet was fun and inspiring. Only the best of the best get to participate. Minds must be prepared to be blown. Guts will be left on the track. Clapping hands will be sore and voices will eventually crack and fail from screaming. This is the Meet of Champions.

Even though only a select few are qualified to participate, Gavin’s entire team came out to cheer. I love this team. They are a team. Running can be considered an individual sport but each individual helps the team. The team helps each individual become more successful. It’s a beautiful circle.

Even Miles was there in full uniform to support the very team that supports him. How could he not cheer on his teammates who finish cross country races and then find him on the trail to run with him to the finish line! The Huskies are a team.

Not only do the Huskies cheer for each other, they cheer on every runner. With every race there were clusters of Huskies standing on the grass at the edge of the track cheering runners from every participating school. The parents in the stands were the same way.

The meet of champions means more than bragging rights for schools and individuals. It’s cheering on greatness. It’s witnessing the unharnessed human spirit and its drive for success. There are some boys from other schools that look like freight trains. They shoot across that track. Arms and legs pumping they chug forward like a well oiled machine. Two of them look like future football running backs. I can just imagine them cradling a football and running to the end zone full speed ahead. You don’t stop those boys. Or get in their way!

Coach Erika told me that Gavin has PR’d on every race this year. She expected him to do the same as he ran the mile for the Meet of Champions. I will admit I was afraid she only put him in because of the debacle with the last meet. She did tell me that she talked to the vice principal and explained to him how the permission slips work. She assured me the teacher had been notified despite claims to the contrary. I figured as much! I just told her that I gave the vice principal a piece of my mind because he deserved it. Coach Erika and I both agreed that what’s done is done. Gavin missed his race unfortunately but he could race in the final meet.

Heath and I were nervous for him. Our baby had been selected to run when most 7th graders hadn’t. All we could do was cross our fingers and silently pray that he would do well.

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Gavin is a quiet and private soul. Much like an iceberg, most of him lies unseen below the surface. I love this picture. The boys have been captured deep in thought as they prepare to race. Gavin looks like my brother. He also seems to be saying, “You don’t know me. You have no idea what I am capable of.” Almost like the scene in McFarland where Thomas says to the prep school boy just before the gun goes off, “Do you golf? This ain’t golf.”

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One of my favorite parts of this race was that Gavin’s name was on the board the whole time. The girls ran the mile first and the board said L1 Parker for the whole race. Once the first girl crossed the finish line names started scrolling. The parents crowded at the fence cheered for “Parker” every time that tiny little waif of a girl ran by. None of us know her. We could only assume her last name is Parker.

She is an incredible runner. Heath describes her as all legs with a heart. She is short but her legs make up 80% of her body. She is skinny as a rail. Heath says she has a heart that pumps blood to her legs that never seem to tire as they carry her so easily around the track.

Gavin wants to know how she always wins when she has such bad form! I told him my theory. She is legs and a motor. Her tiny size means she has no wind resistance. So she just flies around that track.

Who knows how the names were chosen to be displayed on the clock. Gavin was in lane 7 with a large number 7 taped to his shorts. I love watching him run. I love watching anyone run really since I can’t run to save my life. I have never seen Gavin run with so much heart. His passion and drive to better himself was amazing to watch.

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For so much of the race he looked like this – completely comfortable in his stride. He looked like he was out running for the hey of it.

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Then the last lap … I could see his whole demeanor change. We were standing at the finish line. I could see Gavin come around that last corner and suddenly kick it into high gear. I could barely recognize him he was still so far away and I was straining to see around the crowds of parents. I could see him dig deep and sprint out the last 100 meters.

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His face was a mix of agony and sheer grit. He was nowhere near me and I started screaming like my leg was being chopped off with a butter knife. I love cheering loud and proud. I don’t know that I have ever been louder or prouder of that kid!

The mile is his race. He loves running the mile. Every day after track practice he tells me how fast he ran the mile that day. Usually they were reports of his success as he ran the mile in PE. Track practice doesn’t often include timing for the mile. He PR’d yesterday. It was so cool to see.

Some kids told him he ran the mile in less than six minutes. Even though we were standing right in front of the clock we couldn’t see his time. I saw 6:08 but that was after watching him cross the finish line and then looking back at the clock. Regardless of the particulars, it was the fastest he has ever run the mile. I knew he had definitely earned his right to participate and I am so proud of the results.

He wasn’t the first to cross the finish line and he was well ahead of the last boys to finish. I don’t care what his place was in the race. I feel honored to have been able to see him surpass himself. That’s why we do this. Gavin will always be a champion to me because he keeps trying to improve. Beating his own time with every race is definitely something to be proud of.

Riding that high, the rest of the meet was just icing on the cake.

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