Boys Track & Field: Ryan Smith running with purpose for Worthington Kilbourne Wolves

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Kilbourne's Ryan Smith (center) and Stephen Tice compete in the 1,600 meters during a home dual meet against Thomas on May 4. Smith's goal for the race was to help Tice finish in under 5 minutes, and Tice placed fourth in a personal-record 4:59.89.

Ryan Smith of the Worthington Kilbourne boys track and field team joined teammate Stephen Tice in the 1,600 meters during a home meet against Thomas Worthington on May 4, pacing the race to help Tice achieve even splits as Tice sought to finish in under 5 minutes. 

Tice placed fourth in a personal-record 4:59.89 as the Wolves finished second (60) behind the Cardinals (76).

Smith wasn’t worried about his own time despite putting forth the effort to run in the event. He instead jogged off the track before finishing, choosing not to take the spotlight off his teammate. 

“He’s not going to outshine his teammate who’s trying to run under 5 minutes,” coach Josh Stegman said. “He let his teammate finish that race and he just stepped off and didn’t even record a time. I get a chill just talking about that – that kind of thing is more impressive than anything he can possible do on the track.” 

“The pace wasn’t too hard for me, so I tried to help (push Tice) during laps,” Smith said. “I didn’t feel like it was super necessary to finish because I did my job and also had an 800 to get ready for. (I wanted) to just let my teammate finish out strong.” 

Later, Smith set a personal record of 2:07.06 in the 800 while placing second. 

Smith’s high character is just one area where he’s shined in his first season with the Wolves.

On the track, the freshman, who is primarily a distance runner, already has excelled in the events that require the most stamina. Smith has demonstrated the ability to time his splits and quickly has become one of the Wolves’ top athletes, according to Stegman.

“The thing that’s been most impressive for me about him is just about how even he can run,” Stegman said. “In the distance events, if someone can run even splits in the race ... that’s super impressive.” 

As of May 5, Smith was ranked third in the state in the 3,200 on MileSplit with a time of 9:50.78 – a personal record – behind Amherst Steele’s Ty Perez (9:40.37) and Dublin Jerome’s Sam Ricchiuti (9:45.64).

Smith also set a personal record in the 1,600 (4:37.85) while placing fifth in the Gary Smith Invitational on May 1 at Thomas. 

While his speed and endurance – and his ability to run even splits – are major factors in his early success at the varsity level, Smith said the focus he places on consistency is another significant element influencing his performances. 

“I started running very consistently this time last year,” he said. “I’ve just been keeping up my mileage (and) I’ve had good summer training where I had lots of fun but also put in quality work. I (also) think staying calm in the race definitely helps me run a lot faster, and (I try) staying calm when I don’t feel the best.

“I (also) don’t try to overthink it, but I do all the basic stuff as well as far as recovering. I do my stretches, I roll on my legs if they’re feeling sore and I keep an eye on everything.” 

Stegman said he can attest to Smith’s pride in remaining consistent. 

“He just is willing to do what we ask of him,” Stegman said. “There’s no half, there’s no three-quarters; when we say this is what the workout is and this is what we’re trying to accomplish with this workout, he just goes out and executes.

“It’s just his ability to be so consistent and resilient at the same time. I can’t remember a time he’s backed off of a workout. He’s always asking for more.” 

The Wolves compete in the OCC-Capital Division meet May 13 and 15 at Westerville North, followed by the Division I, district 1 meet May 18, 20 and 22 at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 26 and 28 at Pickerington North.

Despite his first-year success and with three seasons remaining to further realize his potential, Smith said he isn’t consumed by aspirations of a state title or other postseason achievements. 

“I don’t like to focus too much on big, huge goals like that, but if it comes, then yeah,” he said. “I would like to continue being consistent and staying (healthy). I’d like to be successful in the championship season, but I also know it’s a sport and we need to have fun. So that’s mostly my biggest goal, is to have fun.” 

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve