Don't count on Erin Kirby going around town bragging about her athletic accomplishments - although she would be fully justified in doing just that.
All the Evanston High School junior did last weekend was win three gold medals at the Class 4A State High School Track & Field Championships. Kirby was also the fastest female in all four school classifications at the state meet in those three gold medal events. She recorded Best of the Best state meet times in the 100-meter intermediate hurdles, the 300 low hurdles and the 400-meter dash.
Best of the Best awards are presented to the male and female athletes with the top performances at state. The presentations are made throughout the three-day state meet at Harry Geldien Stadium on the Kelly Walsh High School campus in Casper. Erin's dad, Jon Kirby, said his daughter quickly took off the Best of the Best medal from the 100 hurdles after the presentation Saturday morning. By STEVE KODAD Herald Sports Editor After she was awarded the 300 hurdle Best of the Best award later in the day, Erin had the medal removed from around her neck before she stepped off the podium .
"I just don't want to look like I'm bragging, I guess," the humble 16-yearold said. "I've always done that. It's good for me that I got it (the medal) and stuff, but I don't need to show it off."
Kirby won the 100 hurdle finals Saturday morning with a time of 15.02 seconds . She had the fastest time in Thursday's preliminary round at 15.14.
Erin broke her own EHS school record in the 100 hurdles with a blazing 14.37 clocking in the prelims of the West 4A Regionals at Red Devil Stadium May 15. That time was just one-hundredth of a second off the state record of 14.36 set by Shaunna Smith of Sheridan in 2002.
After her fast run at regionals, Kirby had her sights set on Smith's state mark (Wyoming state high school track and field records can only be set during state meet competition). But the wind didn't cooperate, as a steady breeze blowing nearly in the competitor's faces Saturday morning helped throttle Erin's record try. "I didn't know I was close to the state record at regionals, and then my mom and dad told me," she said. "So that was my goal in the 100 hurdles, to get (the record). But you can't really do anything about the wind. Next year."
In Erin's second race in Saturday's finals , she hit a personal-best time of 43.69 seconds to win the 300 hurdles in a tight battle with Sheridan senior Taylor Gardner. Gardner was second in 43.79. Kirby's time was the fastest again for her second Best of the Best award. Later in the day, Erin and Gardner battled again in the 400, with the EHS standout winning in 56.37 seconds, and Gardner second in 56.60.
Kirby said her goal entering state was to claim at least three gold medals. "I was hoping at least for the ones (100 hurdles) and threes (300 hurdles) for sure, and I was also hoping for the 4 (400)," she said, "but I had never really run against that Taylor Gardner girl, so I wasn't really sure how well I was going to run with her, or how close it was going to be. I knew Emily was good in the 200."
Emily Moore of Gillette and Kirby battled in the 200-meter dash finals late Saturday. Moore opened an early lead, and as the runners rounded the curve, Erin was a few strides behind. She closed the gap a little, but Moore held on to win in 25.08 seconds, and Kirby was second in 25.31.
Kirby began her running career by competing in the Hershey Youth Track and Field Program. She qualified for the national Hershey meet in Pennsylvania one year, "when I was 8 or 9," Erin said. "That's a while ago."
Kirby credited middle school coach Mike Lonsway and EHS head track coach Lance Morey for helping her develop her hurdling skills. Hurdle crash
Erin said she was a little nervous before the 100 hurdle finals Saturday. History and the Kelly Walsh track have a lot to do with that. Kirby and teammate Lauren Thomas were competing in the 100 hurdle state finals as freshmen two years ago on the same track. Kirby hit a hurdle as she battled with Thomas and Jordan Merback of Kelly Walsh. She crashed to the track and took out Thomas in the process.
"Just because it can be like a real close race, because you don't have very much time," she said. "It's kind of like the 100 - if you don't get a good start then you have to make up a lot of distance. I don't know, I guess, just the thought - always when I get to that eighth hurdle, don't fall. It happened last year, too."
Kirby and Thomas have been close friends for many years. After Kirby wiped her out in the hurdle finals two years ago, Lauren got disqualified when she tried to help Erin back to her feet and inadvertently grabbed a hurdle.
Thomas struggled this season with a leg injury, and she finally seemed to be getting back to 100 percent at the end of the season. Lauren ran on the Lady Devil 1600 relay team that placed second at state. She said the second-place medal was good medicine to help heel the pain of the season slowed by the injury. "It certainly helps," she said. "I didn't perform as well as I wanted to, but this just made everything better. It's just nice."
The two friends support and cheer for each other on and off the track, and when they compete against each other. Thomas finished fourth in both hurdle races at state.
"I love watching Erin. She's a great competitor and she's my best friend," Thomas said. "When she does well, I could not be happier for her. What bummed me out was not getting the times I wanted to. But Erin's helped me through it, so it was a lot easier." "I just love competing with her. She's a great friend and a great competitor," Thomas said.
Kirby is already drawing attention from college recruiters. At 5-11 , she is also a standout on the Lady Devil volleyball team and one of the top players on the EHS basketball squad. Her ideal college situation would be to compete in volleyball and track.
"I like them both a lot, but I kind of like team stuff more," she said. "It's just more fun because you actually get to do more stuff together, get all ready and get more pumped up. Track's just kind of your own thing.
"Like when I did the 4 x 4 (1,600 relay) my freshman year, it was more fun. I like that, because you're all with your team. I like them both a lot. If I can do both, then that would be really cool."
When Erin completes classes at EHS this week, she will officially become a senior, with the realization that in 12 months, her outstanding high school career will come to a close.
"This year went by fast," she said. "It's weird to think we actually only have one more year. It kind of goes both ways - I'm not excited to be a senior, but I am."
It's probably a sure bet that Evanston coaches lucky enough to work with Erin are saying the same thing. They are no doubt excited to see what she can accomplish in volleyball, basketball and track and field in her senior season, but sad to know that next year will be her last at EHS.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
my sister is AMAZING!! She just competed in her state track meet and did such a great job! And I am so incredibly proud of her. Read all about it in this article from our newspaper. And just like the article states, she is so humble and sweet about her success. So I had to brag for her on here! I am also really proud of her BFF Lauren for being such a great friend and athlete and for having the sweetest and genuine hearts of anyone I know. You two are both very inspiring in so many ways!! I love you both! (also... check out her awesome muscles in the picture at the top. Lauren is directly behind her to the right.)
EHS junior Best of the Best times three at state