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Briggs brings Spanish Springs into battle
by Aaron Retherford
May 19, 2011 | 934 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs senior Josh Briggs is vying for a state title in the 800m Saturday.
Tribune file photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs senior Josh Briggs is vying for a state title in the 800m Saturday.
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As a junior, Spanish Springs track star Josh Briggs picked the perfect time for his coming out party a year ago. By shaving off four seconds from his seeding time, he went from the sixth seed to the runner-up at the regional championships in the 800m, earning a berth to the state meet where he took third.

Briggs carried that momentum into a senior year that he will never forget. It started with qualifying for state in cross country, and it continued with him earning the chance to run cross country and track at TCU next year.

Now, he’s trying to finish off his senior year with a state championship, one week after taking the Northern 4A title in the 800 meters.

“I’m pretty confident going into it. Nick Hartle is an amazing runner. He has great times,” Briggs said. “On any given day, anyone can have a great race. Any of the eight people in that race can do great.”

He will have tough competition Saturday at Del Sol High School. Hartle, a junior from Centennial, has the top time in the 800m, but his seed time is only 0.32 seconds faster than Briggs’ time.

Briggs’ distance running coach Dave Harris has no doubt Briggs can win a state championship this weekend due to all the hard work he has put in this year.

“He seems like he’s a little more focused this year, and he’s always been as talented as any kid I have ever coached,” Harris said. “He’s just taking it over the top this year. There’s a kid down there, Nick Hartle, who is really fast, but I think Josh is every bit as talented as he is.”

Briggs will first get a shot to win the 4x800m relay Friday afternoon. The Cougars took second at regionals behind McQueen and are the fifth seed with their time of 8:10.88.

“We’ve never really had from Spanish Springs a competitive distance relay. This year a couple of the guys stepped up tremendously from the beginning of the year. We’ve really bonded as a team. We’re all ready to go 100 percent for each other,” Briggs said. “It’s really cool having that team feeling going into the end of the season versus usually only sending the individuals. Now when you’re going with a relay team, it still feels like we’re the Cougars.”

Harris had his distance runners run cross country this past fall in order to toughen them up. The Cougars had never qualified a boy runner for the state cross country meet, but this year they got two runners after Jacob Fleming took fifth and Briggs 11th at the regional meet.

“I think it had a major impact, one, just getting to know other runners that we were going to be competing against. And also just knowing you have the strength and endurance to keep going in a race versus only training as a sprint type runner helped a lot,” Briggs said. “As far as Jake (Fleming) being on our 4x800, he got a lot of experience when he went down to a race and we was there with some of the best competitors in the state. He got that nervousness out, and I think he’s a lot more comfortable now.”

Only a handful of local athletes each year are able to continue their running careers at the college level. Briggs became one of those earlier this spring.

Briggs visited colleges during Spring Break, looking for the perfect combination of a smaller classroom setting and a huge school spirit surrounding athletics. With the recent success of its football program, TCU felt like the perfect fit. Briggs said the coaching staff was willing to invest the time to train Briggs to be a runner who could compete with the nation’s best.

However, Briggs never expected to be in this position and is glad Saturday isn’t his last race.

“When I entered high school, I looked up at the record boards and thought it would be cool to get my name up there,” he said. “As I started moving up my freshman year, I thought it would be cool to go to state. Once I got to this level, it’s like ‘oh my gosh not only did I get those goals before, but now I get to continue running in college and I get to be one of those athletes you get to see on the commercials during football games.’

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing this week won’t be the last week I run track. I get to go compete against not only the state’s best, but now the nation’s best.”
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