The top finisher among Clark County athletes at the boys state cross country championships came real close to not even competing at district.
"There was a point I wasn't sure I was going to be able to run," Skyview senior Colby Gilbert said.
Both hamstrings just could not get loose all week. He was in considerable pain.
Rest of All-Region team
Austin Blankenship, so., Columbia River: 3A GSHL co-runner of the year; 26th at 3A state.
Andrew Duffy, sr., Camas: First-team all-4A GSHL selection; 41st at 4A state meet.
Sean Eustis, sr., Washougal: 2A GSHL league champion; Fourth at 2A state meet.
Andrew Kaler, sr., Camas: First-team all-4A GSHL selection; 35th at 4A state meet.
Isaac Stinchfield, sr., Washougal: First-team all-2A GSHL selection; ninth at 2A state meet.
Mark Tedder, sr., Battle Ground: 4A district champion; eighth at 4A state meet.
However, he knew if he did not run, there would be no chance to go to state.
"I decided to run. And I decided to go for it. I'll die when I die," Gilbert said.
Runners are used to pushing themselves, extending their bodies to the maximum effort. Gilbert finished second that day.
After a week of intense recovery with ice, heat, massage, and stretching, he finished third at bi-district. Then he took third at the Class 4A state meet.
His gritty performances in the three biggest races of the season made him The Columbian's All-Region boys cross country runner of the year. It is the second consecutive year that Gilbert has been our top pick. He finished eighth at state last year.
Gilbert runs for his team and for himself, but also for his family. Carolynne and Chris Gilbert met as college runners. Younger brother Chanse is expected to run cross country, too.
The family also gets the drive to succeed from Carolynne, who is battling breast cancer. Colby called his mom the most inspirational person in his life.
"She works so hard to take care of me and my family, when she feels terrible every day," Colby said. "That commitment and all-around effort to work so hard for us is really amazing.
"I definitely want to run well for her."
That is exactly what he did at state. He noticed early that the main pack went out too fast. He held back, ran alone for a bit, then made his move. He picked off six or seven runners in the final stretch to finish third.
"I ran a smart race, and I was faster at the end," Gilbert said.
• Gilbert did not take the bait at the state meet. When a pack of leaders went out too fast, he stayed back a bit and waited for his time. Strong at the end, he said he passed six or seven runners in the final stretch to finish third at the 4A meet.
• While recovering from two sore hamstrings, he still managed to finish third at the bi-district meet to easily qualify for state.
• Considered shutting it down before district because his hamstrings were in so much pain. But he raced, advanced, then shined the next two weeks.
More about Colby
• Favorite movies: "The Grinch who stole Christmas" is his favorite Christmas movie. Outside of the holidays, he said he likes "Crash" and "The Guardian."
• Favorite subject: Engineering. "English doesn't work out for me."
• Favorite book: "Lynchpin: Are You Indispensable?" by Seth Godin.
Next year and beyond
• Wants to study engineering and wants to run in college. He said he has talked to Boise State, Gonzaga, and the University of Portland.
"When I don't run, I get tense. Running is really meditative and relaxing for me."
Two-time Columbian All-Region boys cross country runner of the year