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Byrne caps career with third, 11th, at state meet

North Harrison’s Ryan Byrne finished his season and career in a blaze of glory at Friday’s state track finals at the Indiana University track complex in Bloomington.
Byrne lowered his school record and personal best in 1,600-meter run, and came back later for a strong effort in the 3,200-meter event.
Byrne’s first race came in the mile, where he had the top seed time.
The North Harrison senior was boxed in at the start and was 10th on the backstretch. At 200 meters into the second lap, he was third with the field still well stacked up. At that point runners began slicing and dicing for positions.
Byrne briefly fell to third in turn three, but came up to lead at the beginning of the third lap. Byrne was still up front to begin lap four, but Tyler McCreary of Lawrence North moved up, running toe-to-toe with the North Harrison runner.
In the third and fourth turns, elbows bumped and Byrne stumbled against the inside rail. Greencastle’s Andy Weatherford charged up from the outside to challenge McCreary as Byrne slipped to third. Weatherford and McCreary both dove for the finish line, with Weatherford getting the win, while Byrne was two steps behind in third.
‘I’m happy with what I did today,’ said Byrne, who’s time was 4:14.38. ‘It’s my last 1,600, my senior year, and I didn’t know what I’d do, but I’m happy with it.’
Byrne said the bump on the last lap had nothing to do with the final results.
‘The last lap on the first turn I felt them coming up around me, and I kept on kicking. There was a little bit of elbowing on the straightaway. I held them off the back half, but he (McCreary) got me before the turn. It was a nice move on his part. I tried to keep them on the outside. I didn’t know the guy on far outside was coming until I could see him in my side vision. He’s a sophomore and he put up a heck of a race at the end.’
Byrne’s race in the 3,200 meters was not like his previous run. He was pushed back to about 20th at the start, completing his first lap at about 1 minute 10 seconds. By the end of the third lap, he was still well back and had a 4:41 time at halfway.
The Cougar senior moved up to 11th by the fifth circuit, but then faded out of the top 15. With two to go, Hammond Morton’s Tim Sirbeck quickly took off for a lead of about 100 meters.
Sirbeck came to finish line throwing his arms up in celebration, but then came a stunned look of surprise as the starter rang the bell for the final lap.
Sirbeck, in shock, took off again but at a slower pace for the final lap. However, his big lead allowed him to remain at the top position.
Byrne came back to 11th for the final 400 meters, finishing in a time of 9:27.95, just two seconds over his personal best.
‘I was really hurting there at the end,’ Byrne said. ‘I was going for 70-second laps, which would have been about a 9:20. I was on pace for the first five laps, then the last three laps I kind of faded away.’
‘I wish he hadn’t got messed up a little bit there in the mile, because who knows what could have happened there,’ said Byrne’s coach, Dana Striegel. ‘He just kind of struggled all the way through. He knew what his times were and stayed right with it. What can you say about a kid like that?’
Striegel said Byrne has done more for North Harrison’s running programs than just scoring and running fast.
‘All the little kids back here were saying, ‘I’m going to get some T-shirts that say ‘Ryan Byrne’ on them,’ ‘ he said. ‘We’ve got a kid now that’s a distance runner, and he’s come out for track. He didn’t know what to do, how to train or anything about pace. He just watched Ryan all year. He’s helped that guy so much and all the other guys. He’s shown a lot of leadership. He’s the true captain of the team.’
Asked what advice he would give the younger kids coming up behind him, Byrne said he would tell them to just keep working.
‘It’s not how talented you are sometimes, it’s the amount of effort you put into it,’ he said.
‘It doesn’t even have to be track. It’s just something you find you really enjoy doing and just try to excel at it.’
Byrne placed second in the state cross country meet last fall.