With the finish line in sight Saturday, Taylor Clayton took a few peeks over his shoulder.
The turn was so obvious that the public address announcer at one point said, “Quit looking back and run!”
The Decatur junior just wanted to make sure no one was about to steal his spot on the podium. Clayton reached the finish line of the Old Settlers Park’s 5K course in 16 minutes and 37 seconds to secure the bronze medal.
“I just wanted to make sure I didn’t have to sprint [at the end],” Clayton said.
His third-place finish was part of a state-title winning effort for the Decatur Eagles.
“I have to give glory to God. I can’t ask for more,” Clayton said.
Lytle’s Cesar Gonzalez won the Class 3A race in 16:01. He sprinted away from Coldspring-Oakhurst’s Christopher Speaks in the final half mile to earn the victory by 18 seconds.
Clayton held off hard charges from Alvarado’s Kevin Nunez and Sanger’s Jacob Perry in the final stretch. Clayton finished two seconds ahead of Nunez in fourth place and 2.05 seconds in front of Perry.
Clayton led the race through the first mile, which he completed in 4:42.
“I went out way too fast,” he said. “I didn’t run smart, but that’s to be expected at state.”
Decatur coach David Park agreed it was a fast start for Clayton, but said he didn’t stray too far from the plan.
“He followed what I wanted him to do,” Park said. “I told him to get out there and let the pace take you. He beat some people because he did that.”