Jay Hebert stands atop the podium with his gold medal after winning the 55-meter hurdles at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association indoor track championship meet at Cornell University March 1. It’s the fourth state title for the Ticonderoga trackster.
Jay Hebert didn’t run his fastest time at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association indoor track and field championship meet, but he probably ran his best race.
The Ticonderoga athlete, the defending champion, won the 55-meter hurdles in 7.37 seconds, lunging across the finish line to edge Sidney Gibson of Msgr. McClancy High School by 1/100th of a second at Cornell University March 1.
“This win by Jay is the most exciting win of his career, and mine in 15 years of coaching,” Ti Coach Walt Thorne said. “To have a race this close and to win shows what kind of athlete he is. What a way to finish out his senior, and last, indoor season of high school indoor track.
“No one was sure who won the event until they posted the score on the screen and the announcer called out Jay’s name,” he said. “His parents, the town of Ticonderoga, the school, the track team and coaches couldn’t be more proud of this young man for what he has accomplished.”
Hebert, whose strength is accelerating late in the race, didn’t realize he’d won until the computerized results were posted.
“Usually I can make up ground as the race goes,” he said, “but when I got to the fourth or fifth hurdle and he (Gibson) was right there with me I knew it was going to be close.
“It took all five hurdles to get it done,” he said. “Coming off the fifth hurdle (the final one) there was no letting up. I knew I had to run through the finish.”
In an event usually decided by tenths of a second, Hebert has established himself as, arguably, the best Section VII track athlete of all time.
It’s Hebert’s fourth straight hurdles state championship. He won the 110-meter hurdles at the outdoor championships in 2012, then captured the 55-meter hurdles indoors and the 110 hurdles outdoors in 2013.
Hebert, who plans to attend and run track at Harvard, won his preliminary heat in 7.56 seconds and his semifinal heat in 7.44. His personal best is 7.31, run last season.
“It’s definitely a combination of things,” Hebert said. “Indoor and outdoor are very different races, but the key is to keep focus on my technique and try to do the best I can every time.”
The Ticonderoga senior will compete in the New Balance national championship meet March 14-15 in New York City. Last winter he finished eighth in the nation indoors.
“I’d like to make to the top six and get All-America this year,” Hebert said. “I really just want to run well, hopefully run my best race of the year.”
The top six finishers at the New Balance meet are named high school All-Americans.
It’s believed Hebert is the lone North Country athlete to win four state championships. Is Hebert the best area track and field athlete ever?
“That’s not something I ever think about,” he said. “When people say something like that it’s nice to hear, but I’m just looking forward to the outdoor season and trying to get better. Someday I’ll step back and think about it.”
Also competing in the boys state championship meet were Ticonderoga’s Jarryn Granger, Coleman Granger, Marcus Moser, Shawn Silliman and Zechariah McLoughlin.
Jarryn Granger, Coleman Granger and Moser joined with Hebert to take 10th place in the 4x200-meter relay.
Silliman was 28th in the 55 hurdles. Jarryn Granger was 18th in the long jump and 29th in the triple jump. McLoughlin was 29th in the shot put.
In the girls meet Halie Snyder of Moriah, who played in the Viking’s Section VII Class D girls basketball tournament title game the night before, placed fourth in the 300-meter run and 10th in the 55-meter sprint. She was 15th in the long jump.
Ticonderoga’s Lillith Ida was 26th in the high jump.