After narrowly missing out by .53 seconds to OA-BCIG in the 2A boys 4x200 earlier in the day, Albia qualified Friday for the 4x400 final with the fastest time. Still, the Blue Demons found themselves in the middle of the pace after Ryan Sarver kept Albia in striking distance through the first leg before handing off to Leshen who quickly bolted Albia into the lead in the first 100 meters of the second leg.
“We knew that going into the race that if I could get the baton to Luke in first place, we were going to win this race,” Leshen said. “I was going to do everything I could to make sure we had that lead going into that third leg.”
The victory bumped Albia into the top 10 in team points as the Blue Demons tied for ninth in Class 2A with 20 points, making Ratliff’s squad the highest placing team this season in the area. The historic win is also significant considering all four members of the 4x400 team will be returning next year to try and become Albia’s first team to successfully defend a championship.
“It’s a great feeling to know that we came up here with all four of these teams, placed in the top 10 in all four races and we’ve got all four guys in this team coming back,” Ryan Sarver said. “I don’t know how to describe this right now.”
It was day where history also repeated itself, again, on Saturday for Centerville senior Payton Busch who returned to the track less than 24 hours after anchoring the Big Reds to a successful championship defense of their boys 3A Distance Medley relay title. With several Big Red fans awaiting him at the finish line, Busch defended his second title in as many days by bringing home his second-straight 800 meter run championship, topping his own title-winning time of a season ago of 1:55.5 with a run of 1:55.43 in his last appearance in Centerville red and black.