DYLAN TARBOX marched with the Class of 2014, choosing to close out his track career with a personal best at the Meet of Champions. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 16, 2014WOLFEBORO — Seniors in high school often face many tough decisions.
Many have to decide whether they want to go to college or into the work world. Then, if they want to go to college, they have to choose where. If they want to pursue a career, they have to choose what they want to do.
Needless to say, there's a lot on the plates of kids as they prepare to graduate from high school.
Kingswood senior Dylan Tarbox made his college decision (Cornell) and his major choice (biology), but as he headed to the final week of high school, suddenly there was another big decision on his plate.
Tarbox, who has been a key member of the Kingswood track team for the last four years, found himself with a bit of a conflict.
With his fifth place finish in the 300-meter hurdles in the New Hampshire Meet of Champions on Saturday, June 7, at Londonderry High School, Tarbox clinched a spot in the New England Championships, which took place this past Saturday, June 14, at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.
However, there was one other event going on during that Saturday morning and involved caps, gowns, speeches and an important piece of paper.
Kingswood graduation just happened to be on the same day as New Englands, leaving the graduating senior with a choice to make. This is the same choice former Knight stars Kirsten Silfvenius and Dylan Summers faced in past years (both chose New Englands).
After giving it some thought over a couple of days, Tarbox made his choice, donning the cap and gown instead of the track uniform. But it wasn't an easy decision.
"Looking at where I was ranked in hurdles and the times for other states, I figured it made more sense to go to graduation than to go and make an appearance at New Englands," Tarbox said.
The New England track and field championships bring together the top six athletes in each event from each New England state in one big meet.
One thing that Tarbox took into consideration when making his decision was his position as class marshal for the Kingswood Class of 2014.
Additionally, he looked at how he finished at the Meet of Champions as a reason.
"I was very happy with how it finished up," Tarbox said, noting that he set a new personal best by .72 seconds in the 300-meter hurdles in what was his last race. It was the first time this season that he set a new personal best in the event.
The 300-meter hurdles are a unique event and the way Tarbox got started in that event kind of tells how far he's come.
"In seventh grade, I did the 100 hurdles and they're very low," he said. "I got to high school and looked at the 110 hurdle height as a freshman and it just scared me.
"So I decided to go with the lower hurdles," Tarbox said. The 300-meter hurdles are lower than the 110-meter hurdles.
Over the course of his career, Tarbox eventually did start competing in the 110-meter high hurdles and even qualified for the Division II State Meet this year in the event.
He also got back into an event that he hadn't run since his freshman year, the 200 meters.
"I ran it once as a freshman," Tarbox said. "Then Harvey (coach Paul Harvey) put me in it again this year."
Tarbox finished in the top six at the Division II State Meet and qualified for the Meet of Champions in the 200 as well.
Tarbox got his start in running back in the fifth grade, when Effingham Elementary School teacher Carol Viens started the Running Rascals program.
"I was an original member of the Running Rascals," Tarbox said. "That's where I got started with running."
Once he got to middle school, he began running track as well and this winter did both indoor track and cross-country skiing in addition to running cross country in the fall and outdoor track in the spring, as he had done the previous years.
He's learned that when it comes to hurdlers, most people either are made to do it or not, noting that some people's bodies are built right to tackle an event like hurdles, while other people aren't.
And as he's gone along in his career, he's enjoyed the chance to mentor younger hurdlers in the Kingswood program.
"When I was a freshman, there were four hurdlers, two boys and two girls," he said. "Now there are a lot of girls and two more boys."
After he marches with his class on Saturday, the future plans include heading to Cornell to study biology.
"Ever since sixth grade, I've been getting awards in science," he said.
He also admits that heading to a large school is something he is looking forward to after the relatively small confines of Kingswood, noting that it will be great to not "know everybody," but instead, choose the people he gets to know.
He's also talked to the track coach and will see if walking on the team is something that he can do, though he admits that Division I NCAA track is no easy nut to crack.
Either way, it's a safe bet that the level head he's used to make the decisions leading up to his graduation will help in the decisions that must be made in the future.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org