Knowing full well his high school athletic career was on the verge of fading away, Dawson Wervey decided to go for it.
"I got the baton in sixth or seventh place and I just gave it everything I had," the recent Hudson graduate said.
For awhile, Wervey’s plan was working to a T.
He passed up some of his main challengers and was actually leading the race during the 1,600-meter relay at the Austintown-Fitch Division I regional meet last month.
But Wervey’s breakneck speed hit a bump down the stretch.
"I just couldn’t hold it in the last 50 meters," he said. "Solon and Walsh passed me and then a couple other schools passed me. I just couldn’t get it."
As a result, Wervey and his teammates fell agonizingly close of qualifying for the state meet.
The Explorers wound up finishing fifth. Only the top four teams earned the right to advance.
For the record, Hudson missed a trip to Columbus by .07 of a second.
"It was devastating, but I ran my best split of 48.66 seconds," Wervey said. "It’s all you can ask for. Running your best time in your last race is a good way to go out."
Fortunately for Wervey, who also finished the dreaded fifth in the 400, life has gone on.
Thankfully for the 18-year-old sprinter, so will his track and field career.
Wervey signed a national letter of intent to continue running at Miami University, a Division I school in Oxford that competes in the Mid-American Conference.
Wervey plans to major in kinesiology with the hopes of being an occupational therapist one day.
He also considered Eastern Michigan University, a fellow MAC school, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"When I met with the coaches and the faculty, everyone was so nice," Wervey said. "I also met all of my teammates. The campus is so beautiful."
Wervey, who also was a stellar running back for the Explorers during the football season, nearly saw his track and field season ripped to pieces.
Wervey suffered from mononucleosis prior to the track season. Once he felt better, the snakebitten senior suffered a hamstring injury.
"I had goals in mind that I didn’t get to meet," Wervey said. "I had the mindset of showing the underclassmen what was expected of them and what needed to be done.
"I didn’t get to be around them has much as I wanted since I was doing rehab."
Despite his lengthy stretch of health problems, Wervey led the 1,600 relay team to the title and was the runner-up in the 400 at the Nordonia district meet.
"Dawson is a pretty confident kid who knows what he wants to do," Hudson head track and field coach Mark McConnell said. "He works hard and is goal-driven. He’s very fun to be around. He brings high energy. He loves to engage with his teammates and coaches."
Wervey joins a RedHawks’ squad that finished fifth at the MAC Outdoor Championships last month. Miami also placed 10th at the MAC Indoor Championships earlier in the year.
Wervey is expected to compete in the 400 and as a member of the RedHawks’ 1,600 relay team.
While he hopes to continue excelling on the track, Wervey knows his main priority is earning his degree.
"I will definitely have to prove myself for sure," Wervey said. "I realize there are are runners who are going to be faster than me.
"I know I’m not going to do this for the rest of my life. I’m not going to be an Olympic runner. I’m going there to focus more on school."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.