The early morning sunlight was bright and a slight breeze blew across the track as Tommy stepped on it. The rubbery surface felt good as his spikes dug in. “This is the big day,” Tommy thought to himself.
He had spent the last three summers work towards this day; an Olympic try out.
Today he would run the one hundred yard dash against the fastest men in the world. He was one of them. At sixteen he was also the youngest.
“Well, open it up,” Dee Sullivan urged to him.
Tommy just stood there looking at the envelope with the five interlinked rings on it. Dee was taking great pride in her second star pupil. ”
Open it up, Tom,” she said again.
That snapped him out of his trance like state and he pulled at the glued down flap. Once the envelope was discarded and the letter inside revealed.
He fumbled nervously to unfold it.
The letter was an invite to participate in the open one hundred meter dash. Again Tommy just stood there, this time with his eyes wide and mouth hanging open.
Mrs. Sullivan smiled. She knew what it was all along. For the past two summers she had pushed and trained him to levels he never thought he could achieve.
Suddenly he let out a scream and a whoop that caused everyone on the little high school field to stop what they were doing and look. What they saw was Tommy jumping up and down in long strides around the track.
He looked as if he had springs attached as bound high in the air. Tommy laughed and he hollered as he continued bounce around the other tracksters on Thuen Field.
“What’s going on,” someone asked. Dee smiled again, “Tommy jus’ got his invite to Oregon State this summer.”
“Isn’t that where their holding….”the person started to ask.
Dee cut them off, “Yup.”
Training intensified. Tommy worked harder than ever. This was the most important meet of his life.
Everyday he would run twenty-five wind sprints in the sands of Pebble Beach. Then he would set up the starting blocks and do twenty-five starts. He worked hard at putting his knees high and keeping his head low.
Tommy ran when it rained and against the gale winds that blew off of Whalers Rock. Then he would do more wind sprints.
Twice a week Dee Sullivan would take him up Highway 199 and along the Smith River to run a longer distance at a higher altitude in the Six River National Forest. Some days she would drop him off at Gasquet or Hiouchi.
Other days it would be Patrick’s Creek or Washington Flat. Then she would drive ahead and Tommy would have to catch up to her.
Dee would eventually be found sitting in her Thunderbird reading a novel as Tommy came trotting in.
Finally the big day came. The evening before he left he spent one last evening at the Sullivan’s home.
“This is it, Tommy,” she said as he got ready for bed. “I can’t do any more for you. It’s all up to you.”
With that Tommy crawled into bed and fell asleep. And just as planned Dad stopped by at six am for the trip to Eugene.
He and Dad talked very little of the track meet. They spoke more about hunting and fishing as well as the number of times they had traveled this same road as a family to visit Mom’s Dad in Salem.
They spent a fitful night sleeping at a hotel.
Tommy was ready first. He wanted to get down to the track.
“Runners, remove your sweats, “the starter said.
Tommy was on the far outside lane in number eight. He was fighting off the nervousness he felt in his stomach.
The crowds were more than Tommy had ever seen. The buzz they made from their constant talking was like nothing Tommy had ever prepared for.
The runners moved forward to remove there sweats. Tommy did like wise and burst of laughter came from behind him.
His sweats were at his knees when he suddenly realized what had happened. Tommy dropped tot he ground and laid on his side as he struggled to pull his sweats up.
Later that afternoon he and his Dad stopped in to a diner for a late lunch. The waitress came over and took their order.
As she brought it to them she asked, ”Ain’t you the one who shot the moon in Eugene?”
Blushing a deep red, Tommy answered, “Yes.”
“Don’t worry, honey, could have happened to anyone,” she said,” Besides you have a cute butt, anyway.