By KEVIN THOMPSON
Check the finish line. He's the one looking back at everyone else.
He's the guy they call Ozzy.
He's Osvaldo Granillo, a nine-time gold medalist in 1A state track who recently completed his Moscow High School career with a sprint sweep at the state meet, one with ease, one with drama, and one in record-setting time.
He is also the Telegram's All-Area track and field Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.
Granillo made sure his final state meet was memorable.
He won his first-ever gold in the 400 meters with relative ease (he clocked in at 50.26), saving his energy for the next three races to come that last Saturday in May in Wichita's Cessna Stadium, a place he has come to own the past three years.
In the 200 meters, he out-leaned Levi Morss of Lacrosse, winning by the merest of times, 22.533-22.536.
But it's his 10.67 in the 100 meters that will ensure his name and photo in next year's souvenir program, as he broke the state 1A record of 10.80 seconds, set in 1995.
Coming into the state meet, he thought he would set a record — but that it would be in the 400.
"I had no intentions of setting a record in the 100," he said, "and the 200 and 400 were within reach. When I broke the 100, I said 'Wow.' I knew my times were fast, but the fact they were that fast at state...."
His unfinished comment is caused by the realization of just how fast he was that day. His 10.67 was faster than all but the 6A and 5A winners, leaving Granillo half-jokingly wishing for a champions' track meet "just for fun."
It was his second gold in the 100 after he won it a year ago in 11.27 seconds, an improvement from fourth place in 2010.
He also won the 200 meters a year ago (22.68) but didn't qualify for it in 2010.
In 2010 and 2011, Granillo also anchored the gold-medal 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams. This year they placed third.
Those 11 medals are sitting on his dresser. He had to take them from a display to use in his senior photos but the plan is to be sure they go on display. He is well aware of the symbolism behind them.
The journey to get those medals began in 2009 when he was a freshman.
He and his teammates didn't even make an appearance at the state meet until the following year, though the 4x800 team placed fifth in their regional — out of five teams, he joked — and he wasn't even close to qualifying in any sprints.
"Oh, no," he said emphatically. "I was nowhere near fast enough. I didn't even run them at regionals."
So what was the difference between his freshmen and sophomore years that propelled him and his relay teammates to the big stage?
"I'd say motivation, but more than anything it was maturing and lifting weights," Granillo said.
The double relay wins in 2010 came out of nowhere, he said, but it sent them from underdog status to top dogs overnight.
He, Breck Roop, Jonatan Manriquez and Reymundo Garcia enjoyed that top status for two years until Garcia graduated and moved on, and this final year they added freshman Brice Valdes to the team that finished third.
Granillo will be taking his talents to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, a Division II school where he plans to compete in the decathlon and heptathlon, while studying computer information systems.
In preparation, he ran with Team Kansas in the Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, N.M., the weekend after the state track meet, competing against all-stars from nine other states.
"There were some fast boys there," he said respectfully.
He ran the 100 (10.94 for fifth), 400 (48.38 for eighth), the 4x100 relay, and the 4x400 relay, in which he ran a 47.9 anchor split.
It was a good way to see how he stacked up against other quality athletes, he said, and a good experience.
He plans to take the summer off, but still lift and train.
"I'll maybe do a little pole vaulting because that's my fear," he added, referring to his college track plans.
Granillo knows that he would not be where he is today without guidance. Moscow resident Kent Knoll, a former hurdler and 400-meter runner, helped him after Granillo's sophomore year and the two gold medals in the relays. His help paid off.
"I honestly think if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have been near the sprinter I am and all I've accomplished because my form was not very good. He gave me his knowledge. He put in a lot of work with me," Granillo said. "You can't always find somebody to help you like that."
Granillo, who also played football and basketball, said he put in extra sprinting and running with parachutes after practice.
"It was definitely worth it," he admits, "but I'm not done yet. I'll keep on putting in time. My goal is to get to nationals in college, maybe in the 4x4."
Granillo knows how far he has come, and he knows his road to gold was not easy.
"I couldn't have done any of this without all the motivation from all my coaches," he said. "As a freshman I couldn't have run a 70-second 400. I put the work in. That's what I hope I teach the younger kids, that hard, earned work will get you some good improvement."