DES MOINES - A deer in headlights - that was Triston Twedt as he stared up at the scoreboard moments after crossing the finish line at Drake Stadium Friday morning.
The wide-eyed look remained as he shook hands with some of his competitors and hugged a few others. It didn't go away as he gave one, then two, then three interviews.
"It doesn't feel anything different, but at some point I'll go get a hug from my mom and it will probably set in," he said.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Triston Twedt: 2013 Class 2A 400-meter hurdles state champion
Five minutes later, just 20 yards off the blue oval, he connected with his mom, Leigh Miller. A bear hug, a kiss on the left temple and a few whispered words seemed to do the trick, and suddenly Twedt grasped the enormity of the situation.
No need to pinch himself. It was real. He was a champion.
Twedt, a senior, did what he previously thought was impossible, as he shocked even himself by winning the Class 2A 400-meter hurdles state title before an announced crowd of 14,110 at the Iowa Co-ed State Track and Field Championships. It was only his second - second! - win in the event this season, but when he leaned across the line in a school-record 54.02 seconds, the gold was all his.
"I was honestly shooting for third," Twedt said after fending off Heart of Iowa Conference rival Clay Cory of North Polk down the stretch. "Not to be that guy, but I was hoping for third. But first feels better."
Cory finished second in 54.34.
Twedt became the first individual to win a boys' state track title in the 50-year history of the South Hamilton program. It was the second taste of success for veteran coach Darrell Paulsen, who led his medley relay to a state crown in his first season at the helm 25 years ago.
"I'm just excited for him and good for South Hamilton to have him win the first one," Paulsen said. "He had the perfect conditions and everything worked out."
Twedt had the perfect lane, too. He considers himself a chaser, which was why being in Lane 3 was the key piece to the puzzle. He was able to see the two fastest qualifiers in Lanes 4 and 5 all the way around the track, and when he saw an opening he took it.
"When I get out in front, that's not my strong suit," Twedt, the sixth-place finisher in 2012, said. "That's why Lane 3 is my favorite ... I know the two faster guys are in front of me and I can chase them around the track."
It was the game plan he and Paulsen had talked about and it couldn't have gone better. About the only thing the two didn't agree on was who was more nervous in the minutes leading up to the race?
"Paulsen (was more nervous) for sure. Holy cow he gets so nervous when I run," Twedt said.
"Baloney. He was more nervous," Paulsen said of his pupil. "We've been watching him bite his nails all morning."
Coupled with two more medal-winning performances from junior speedster Devin Howard on Saturday, South Hamilton vaulted up to seventh place in the final 2A team standings with 23 points. Monticello set a new class record (96 points) en route to the title.
The final day was a classic case of dj vu for Howard, who matched his 2012 state meet by taking second in the 100 (11.33) and fourth in the 200 (22.63). OA-BCIG senior Trever Ryen won both events (11.25 and 22.17).
"I'm not going to lie to you, at first I felt a little disappointed," Howard said. "But there's nothing to be ashamed of at all."
Howard got out of the blocks quickly in the 100 and led for the first 70 meters, but then Ryen turned on the afterburners.
"I ran the (100) race I wanted to run," Howard said. "I had my best start, but Trever has a different kind of gear and he kicked it on at the end."
Don't think Howard is resigned to a career devoid of gold though. He watched Twedt and celebrated alongside his teammate, and he says he'll spend the next 12 months working to match his feat.
"I couldn't be happier for him. The kid deserves it because he works hard every single day and that's motivation for me," Howard said. "I'm still extremely proud of the way I did down here and I know my coaches and family and friends are proud of me. I'll try again next year."
The South Hamilton girls' squad took part in two events on Friday.
High jumpers Eliana Lowry and Alyssa Hegland tied for 15th and 18th, respectively. Both cleared 4-10, but failed to get over 5-0. Lowry finished higher in the standings on fewer misses.
The distance medley relay of Kali Lucas, Kaitlin Fisher, Allyson Ervin and Meghan Fisher finished 22nd in 4:31.01.