High school athletes from around the state attended the 2021 state track meet May 18 at Davis High School/ For many athletes, including Payson High School senior Colby Orton, it was a day he had looked forward to for two years.
With the COVID 19 pandemic cancelling last year’s state meet, it left Colby without the chance to compete against the best in the state. But this year would change all that. This year, he would have his moment that would materialize in a second place finish in the 800 meters at state.
According to Colby, his love for running began as a child.
“I started running in my early years of elementary school with my dad,” Colby recalled. “He would take me to 5Ks all over the county and run them with me (he’d of course let me beat him at the end, being the great man he is). In sixth grade, my teacher, Dan Hansen, had the entire class run a mile nearly every day, and I would sometimes lap the others, and this is what truly crafted my love for running. He encouraged me to run cross country the coming fall, and that is where my path to state truly began.”
Colby’s path to state, like any other athlete, would require that he run a qualifying time or place in the top four at region. He did both. Colby was able to qualify for state in the 800 meter by over four seconds with a time of 1:53.86. Additionally, he won each of the 400, 800, and 1600 meter events at the region meet. And while he was able to qualify for state in five total events, it was the 800 meter that he said he was gunning to win at the state meet.
Going into the race, he knew what and whom he was up against, and he figured he had really good odds. He knew he had endurance and speed and was going to use them to his advantage.
“My plan was to draft behind the top runner the first 700 meters, and swing around the last curve, sprinting home,” Colby said. “This all went according to plan until the last 20 meters, Henry (the leader) found something left and surged, leaving me .25 seconds behind for a second place finish.”
Even though he wasn’t able to reach his goal of becoming a state champion, Colby says that it was one of the best experiences he has ever had.
“The 800 is probably the most difficult race in all of track and field,” he said. “If you go out too fast, or too slow, there’s no way to recover. Perfect pacing, speed, endurance, a strong kick, and smart racing tactics are all required to be a good 800 runner. This makes it the hardest, yet the most fun race. Winning state had been my goal since my sophomore year, and when I came into state being seeded second, I felt well prepared. Even though I couldn’t run away with the win, my placement wasn’t disappointing, and state was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”
The second place finish at state was a very respectable 1:55, and Colby says he hopes to improve if given the chance to run in college.
“Running never turns its back on me,” he said. “No matter how I’m feeling, what’s going on in my life, or where I am, I can hit the road and clear my mind. … With friends, by yourself, or racing, the feeling after completing a run is not to be competed with. That is the best feeling in the entire world, whether you PR, or just jog with friends.
“I’m attending UVU in the fall, and would like to run there, but I’m planning on coaching Payson starting this fall and for years to come.”