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Roach, Boyden reflect on succesful state experience


On the bus ride down to the Hayward Field for the 3A state boys’ track and field championships, Cooper Roach and Wilder Boyden joked about startling the state by producing a top-10 finish, with just the two of them.

Maybe, just maybe, if the cards fell into place, the Valley Catholic long distance runners could score enough points to make an indent on the state standings.

It was a castle in the sky to the casual eye, but after one day of singular showings, Roach and Boyden carried out their arrangement. Roach won two state championships in the 800 and 1,500, while Boyden took fourth in the 3,000. Three great conclusions and the Valiant duo walked away with 25 team points and a 10th-place plaque.

“It was cool just being the two of us,” said Boyden. “We’re good buds, and it was just a lot of fun going to state with only us.”

“We were only a point away from eighth place too,” added Roach. “I was pretty surprised because we were talking about it before. But to get 10th place between two guys is pretty amazing.”

Down to a kick

Roach was confident his training for the duration of the season would at the very least put him toward the front of the herd in both events. In the 1,500, Roach went out fast, which was the race design, but not as hard as originally planned. The finish came down to a kick, and with Roach holding the finishing speed advantage over Oregon Episcopal School’s Nick Obletz, the Valiant junior raced away to six-second mastery. by: COURTESY PHOTO: BARBARA KERR  - Valley Catholics Cooper Roach won state championships in the 800 and the 1,500 and helped the Valiant boys place 10th overall.

“I knew if I had great races, then I’d come home a two-time state champion,” said Roach. “Both races played to my strengths. I think I have more speed than anything. It comes down to the last 200, 300 or even 400 meters. I have the speed to close the race.”

Obletz made a move to the forefront of the group just 500 meters into the 1,500, but he never put a considerable distance between himself and Roach. Running in collaboration, Roach rushed ahead as Obletz faded down the last lap.

In the 800, Roach stayed with the pack, grasping the fact that if the final 200 meters came down to a foot race, he had the upper hand. Most of the 800 candidates had not run the 1,500, so they were full of vim and vigor. Roach was beat physically with just two hours of recovery time jammed between events, yet he regrouped in time for state title number two.

He couldn’t eat anything after his 1,500 cool-down run. With just 80 minutes until the 800, Roach chugged a little Gatorade and kept his feet elevated in the Hayward Field bleachers.

“With 45 minutes to go, I got my legs moving and blood flowing, but it was definitely tough,” said Roach.

Giving chase

Boyden was seeded fourth in the 3,000 going in behind Obletz among others, so his scheme was to stay with a middle battalion of similarly-timed athletes.

“There were three or four of us, and I thought I could stay with them and see what would happen at the end — whether I could close or not,” said Boyden. “The guy who got third went with a few laps to go, and I stayed with the pack and closed a little later.”

Boyden cut five seconds off his previous personal record, to a large extent because of who he was giving chase to. Two of the three boys who beat Boyden are graduating this year, so that puts the sophomore that much closer to a state title.

“When competition is there, I’ll generally have better races,” noted Boyden. “We’d been tapering a couple weeks before, so we could peak at state, but mostly it was the competition.”

The boys’ team has to replace one senior but brings back Roach and Boyden, who now have the state meet experience and are surefooted in their ability to compete in more than just one race.

“Right now our confidence is sky-high,” said Roach. “We’re going to start our cross country training pretty soon, but we’re pretty young as a team, so we’re definitely looking to take a team down next year.”

Head coach Herb Lommen sees nothing but good things for both runners in the near future.

“Roach has been a strong competitor all year and prepared well for state,” said Lommen. “He wanted to win both and put the training in and is very mentally tough in close races.

“Wilder has come a long way and should be right up at the top next year. With both of these boys, it is going to be a very tough combination to beat.

Contact Matt Singledecker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.