Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of 10 stories counting down The Telegram’s Top 10 sports stories of 2011 as chosen by The Telegram staff.
By KEVIN THOMPSON
Last year at the Kansas state track meet, Moscow’s Osvaldo Granillo left quite an impression on a packed crowd at Cessna Stadium, winning gold medals in four events on Saturday.
At the end of the day, fans were well familiar with the black and green stripes against the white backdrop of the Wildcats’ jerseys.
Four events, four visits to the top of the medal stand. Not a bad day for the Class 1A school — and one runner in particular — from southwest Kansas.
A junior at the time, Granillo won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes and teamed up with Raymundo Garcia, Breck Roop and Jonatan Manriquez to win the 4x400 (3:31.58) and 4x800 (8:17.67) relays, defending their titles from 2010.
That now gives him six gold medals at state. And he still has another season remaining.
Granillo won the 100-meter dash in 11.27 seconds, .13 seconds ahead of second place.
Last year he finished fourth in the same event. This time around, it was much sweeter. After crossing the line, the junior did a fist pump and broke into a wide grin.
He won again in the 200 meters in 22.68, .36 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
After capturing the 4x800 relay earlier in the day, and after Granillo’s two gold-medal dashes, the Wildcats were set to defend their 4x400 title in the meet’s final event. This final gold medal would be won in dramatic fashion, apropos for the Moscow boys.
Manriquez got the baton to Roop in 55 seconds and Roop ran a fast quarter as well. But Moscow found itself only in fifth place on the second handoff.
Garcia’s sprint made up time and got the Wildcats into fourth place before he handed off to Granillo, about 30 meters behind the lead runners.
Granillo sprinted past the second- and third-place runners on the backstretch, then smoked past the lead runner and sprinted to the finish line before a cheering crowd.
Just like that, Moscow had its fourth gold of the day.
“It feels good winning state,” Granillo said. But he admits his start in the 100 at state didn’t go according to plan. After almost falling at the start, he said he was close to being disqualified.
“That would have ruined my day,” he joked.
Of his two individual races, Granillo said the 200 is his favorite.
“Last year (2009) I was slow in that event and I hated it,” he said. “But now I like it. I started training a lot for it, and working on my form and the 200 just came along.”
His strategy in both sprints was burn-stride-burn, or strong out of the blocks, smooth in the middle, and all-out sprint at the end.
“I’d work a lot on meditating, and blocking everything out and just exploding as soon as the gun pops,” he said.
The meditation helps him focus, especially in front of the thousands of fans at the state meet, he said.
“I get down in my blocks, and just stare at the asphalt, and just block everything out and listen for the gun,” he said.
That’s pretty ironic for a guy who just recently discovered how much fun track can be.
“I used to be slow and never really liked track,” Granillo said. “My freshman year I couldn’t really run, so they’d take me individually so I could work on form. My feet would be all over the place. My sophomore year I just started lifting and the speed came. It was weird.”
Confidence was important on his golden day at state, he said. Being ranked first in both sprints helped him know that all he had to do was run properly to win.
“I just felt so energetic (Saturday),” he explained. “I’ve never had this much time to run all these events. I felt this sudden burst of energy. The crowd, the adrenaline just gets you going.”
Anyone ready for an encore?