BLAINE -- The Staples-Motley Cardinals 4x800-meter relay team claimed its second consecutive Class A state championship on Saturday in front of nearly 5,000 spectators.
The relay, consisting of Bobby Burton, Jason Tholl, Jeff Brever and Ryan Klingaman, finished with a time of 8:05.59, more than six seconds ahead of the second-place team from Plainview.
The S-M team qualified for the state meet with the second slowest time of the nine entrants but used the tournament atmosphere and strong competition to their advantage.
"We didn't have much of a time coming in, but our section wasn't much," Tholl said. "I knew that if we pushed it and we were all feeling well we could do it."
Of the four, Brever and Klingaman made their last state track appearance, but Tholl and Burton plan on being back next year.
"This is the way to go out," Klingaman said. "It's going to be tough leaving these guys, but I guess it has to end sometime."
In the first leg, Burton moved the Cardinals into the front of the pack, giving Tholl the chance to pull the team into the lead. From there, Brever opened up the gap even more and handed the baton to Klingaman who brought it home for the Cards.
"It's kind of nerve-wracking," Klingaman said of being the anchor. "Your team pulls you up into first and you don't want to lose it for them -- I just went as fast as I could."
Each of the four credited their teammates with having excellent races and noted the importance of their team chemistry in the win.
"I thought everybody did a great job," Burton said. "Everybody did their part and that's why we won."
Crosby-Ironton's team of Joe Radinovich, Trent Anderson, Troy Caddy and Sam Anderson finished sixth with a time of 8:18.93.
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