It might seem like a major adjustment in the week leading up to the biggest race of the season, but it paid off for Bellingham’s Benjamin Doucette.
Doucette switched from an eight-step start to a seven-step, and ended up winning the Class 2A state title in the 110 hurdles with a personal-best time of 14.27 seconds on Friday, May 27, at Mount Tahoma High School.
“Ever since I finished third as a sophomore, I’ve dedicated the last couple of years to this,” Doucette said in a phone interview.
He finished second as a junior and came in as a little bit of an underdog to River Ridge’s Josh Braverman this year.
But after the district meet, Bellingham hurdles coach Laurant Birade had Doucette change the number of steps he took before the first hurdle.
“It’s not as big a change as you might think,” Doucette said. “I’ve done seven steps most of my hurdling career, but we switched to eight this year because I wasn’t getting the power I needed off the ground. You have to take some shorter steps, especially when your a bigger guy. So moving to seven is a natural progression.”
And though it wasn’t the only thing that made the difference on Friday, it did make a difference.
“I knew by the second hurdle that it was over,” said Birade, who watched from the start. “He ran the best race of his career.”
Doucette said he had a similar feeling at about the second hurdle and by the seventh or eighth it hit him that he would be state champion.
“I know the end of my race is the best part,” Doucette said. “I had all that momentum in the middle of the race, and it I had this weird moment at about seven or eight like, ‘Crap, I actually did it.’”