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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
It’s senior year for Gyasi Ruffin and he knows that means his opportunities to find success in track and field are getting more limited.

As he headed to the indoor state championships the Hawks senior had one big goal in mind, he wanted to be a state champion.

And, that’s exactly what happened as he captured the indoor state title in the 600 meters.

“I think my mindset going in was what changed,” Ruffin said. “The big thing was going into this indoor season was it’s senior year, last chance to take a crack at this. When the day came to race at states I was like I’ve got to go for it, this is all there is left.”

As Ruffin prepared during the summer for his senior year he started to realize a state title might be a possibility.

“I just had the idea in the back of my mind since the summer when I started training and the times kept falling down in these big chunks,” Ruffin said. “I just thought, okay, I”m going to decide right now. I remember thinking about it, I was on the treadmill one day and I started thinking I’m going to go for a state title this season.”

And, indoor states was everything that the Hawks senior wanted.

‘It was the highlight of my year if I’m being honest,” he said. “That weekend we got to go over to Ocean Breeze early so we got to have a day at the mall pretty much, so that was extra fun to have that weekend.”

While Ruffin had big goals this year, it was tough at the beginning of the season when you are trying to get into indoor shape.

“It’s really tough, at first starting the season you don’t really have as much fitness as you think you do,” Ruffin said. “You have to convince yourself what is there left to do but work hard. You have gotten to this point, you have worked this hard, you might as well just carry it the rest of the way.”

Ruffin was on the cross country team that won the state title this fall. While he didn’t run at states, he does feel like cross country helped him build his endurance for track and field.

“At first as I was going through it during the cross country season I was kind of doubting how much it would help me, just because it was like the 600 was something I thought was just a race about flat speed,” Ruffin said. “But, when it really came down to it the first time I did it this season was the firs time in about a year I had raced it. And, I was like having that endurance to fall back on, when I couldn’t hold that top speed very much, I think that base fitness from doing cross country all the years helped me pull through.”

Watching what his teammates did at states in the fall just motivated Ruffin even more.

“It’s really awesome,” he said. “It’s like seeing the cross country teams that go to states, seeing them do so well, I think inspires me to work just as hard as them. It was a big motivating factor going into this indoor season. Seeing them do swell well made me want to.”

Right now Ruffin is looking at colleges, he has looked at South Carolina, but is still looking. He knows that winning states can only help him in his college search. And, after winning he has heard from more coaches and that’s a help.

“I would say it helps,” Ruffin said. “I emailed their (South Carolina) coaches Sunday night after states and by Monday morning one of their coaches had reached out to me.

“It takes a lot of the stress I was having off, because the recruiting process is really slow. It takes a lot of patience and once it clicks it takes a huge weight off the shoulders.”

For Ruffin winning states has sunk in, but now the focus turns to outdoor season.

“I think it has (sunk in),” Ruffin said. “Every now and then people will still congratulate me for it and I really appreciate it. It was really nice for the period when it hadn’t sunk in, but my mindset now is to focus and think forward. Think toward outdoor and see if we can do it again.

“I think it actually does help, because I’m so excited about it. I think it’s going to be pure motivation going into outdoor. It’s good motivation I can carry forward.”

Things are a little different in outdoor as Ruffin will switch from the 600 to the 400 meters.

“The focus is still the same, I’m going to go after the 400 at states,” Ruffin said. “Same mindset, work hard, and keep it consistent and we’ll see what happens.”

For the Corning senior both the 600 and 400 meters are races he enjoys.

“It’s hard to pick because I go so long between racing the six and racing the four,” Ruffin said. “I just grow to really like the 600 then when I race the 400 I start really enjoying that. I start to kind of forget about the 600 and how I feel about that.

“You get a certain level of competition and you have to completely change the way you race the 400 and the same is true about the 600. But, I feel like I got used to how I’m supposed to race the 600 and it’s like the 400 is going to be a big jump and it’s going to feel a little different when I get back at it.”

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