Kingsbery’s fast finish makes him All-American

Places third in the mile at national meet by running a personal best 4:16.99

Tim morris

The Hub

"It was a dream, a long shot that worked out," said Red Bank Regional High School’s Walton Kingsbery.

The dream was to earn All-American honors in the one-mile run at Sunday’s National Scholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Armory in New York City. To do that, the Red Bank senior had to place third or better in the event.

Kingsbery’s task was daunting enough, but it became more difficult on Sunday when he discovered that he wasn’t in the seeded race. At first he thought it was a mistake, but it wasn’t. He was going to have to crank out a fast mile on his own.

"I had to go out and run against the clock," explained Kingsbery. "It’s easier to race against the clock indoors because you get splits every 200 meters."

At 800 meters, Kingsbery wasn’t so certain that a fast time was in the offing. He was back in eighth place as the field passed through the half-way point 2:11. He was looking for a 2:06 or 2:07. After a 66-second third quarter, it was time do something.

"I was in lane three running on the outside," Kingsbery noted. "With 350 to go, I went up high on turn three and used the momentum coming off the turn to take the lead. I’m learning how to run on the indoor tracks."

A brilliant 59.9-second last quarter by Kingsbery blew the race open. Knowing he had to get as fast a time as he could, he ran through the tape, stopping the electronic timer in 4:16.99, a new personal record indoors or outdoors and an effort that put him back among the miling elite (his time is 27th all-time in the state).

"I was very happy with the time," he pointed out. "I felt I had a lot left with a quarter to go. I knew I had to close as hard as I could. That 59 was a lot of fun."

More fun than Kingsbery has had in some time on the track. Since his disaster at the last month’s Meet of Champions (when he was fifth in the 1,600 and sixth in 3,200 after entering both races with the best times in the state), the Buc senior had been looking to put the experience behind him.

A quick 1:55.25 800 to take third at the Eastern States helped get him back on track. However, the 1,600 is his race, and on Sunday he finally got to run the kind of race he likes, sit and kick. When he needed it, the old Kingsbery kick was there. That quick burst of speed that takes him to the front and then the quick leg turnover that keeps him there.

After his satisfying 4:16.99, Kingsbery had to sit and wait and watch the seeded heat to see if his time held up. The final turned into a tactical race giving him hope. A 2:12 first 800 was playing into his hands.

The seeded race went to Justin Romaniuk of Suffern, N.Y., who ran a 2:01 last 800 to finish in 4:14.09.

Kingsbery’s eyes were now on the timer. When 4:17 came up, only one other runner had finished. Kingsbery’s 4:16.99 from the unseeded section had held up to put him in third place and on the All-American Team.

"It’s pretty crazy," noted Kingsbery. "My goal was to finish in the top three and make All-America. It doesn’t get any better than that. This makes up for what happened at the Meet of Champions. This is how I wanted to end the indoor season."

The newly recognized All-American will not rest on his laurels for long. On March 29, Kingsbery is scheduled to run an invitational mile at The College of William and Mary’s Colonial Relays in Williamsburg, Va.