TACOMA - Sehome 800 meter runner Reed Henderson crossed the finish line, then fell to the Mount Tahoma High School track surface. He let out a subtle celebration before grimacing in pain.
The 800 meter is one of the physically demanding races for a reason.
"It hurts really bad," Henderson said. "It's hard to describe how bad your legs feel and how your whole body feels. The 800 is probably one of the most taxing races in track. It's really bad."
Henderson's long sought after gold medal eased the pain. The long-striding Mariners senior narrowly outlasted Lake Washington's Kenyon Butler in the final 30 meters to pull out a tight win. Henderson, who was hoping to break a meet record, set a new Class 2A standard instead with a 1 minute, 52.39 second run during the Class 2A-3A-4A Track and Field State Championships Saturday morning, May 25, in Tacoma.
Henderson beat former Sehome runner Mason McHenry's record of 1:52.53 that he set in 2008.
The win was the perfect send off to a career. He's been chasing the top podium spot since he started running for Sehome as a freshman. He left the 2012 state meet with a silver medal.
"It means so much to me," Henderson said. "Oh my God, and the fact that I had to work for it ... It makes me really happy."
Friday after Henderson's preliminary race, he said his race strategy for the final was to get out early in order to build enough separation so faster closers couldn't catch him in the final 100 meters.
"It was a lot more tactical than I thought it would be," he said, "because Kenyon took it out, and I wasn't expecting that."
Butler pushed Henderson the whole way. The Sehome senior led a tight-knit pack after the first 400 meters, then he and Butler pulled away with 300 meters to go. The Lake Washington runner slowly tracked Henderson down with 50 meters left. The pair were stride-for-stride with 30 meters to go, but Henderson had enough energy available to pull away during the final push to the finish line.
"We were neck-and-neck," Henderson said. "I knew his legs were feeling as bad as mine, and my hamstrings started to lock up, and my whole body was just shutting down. I knew I had to make it through that line first. I made sure I did."
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