Sophomore leaves competition in the dust

KINGSTON — Kingston High School distance runner Ruby Roberts is lightening quick.

This year she’s run the 800-meter (about a half mile) in 2:19.17, the 1600 in 5:11.9 and the 3200 in 11:13.81 — all the fastest times in the Olympic League.

She also runs faster than college athletes, said coach Karla Laubach.

“She has better times than numerous college athletes do,” Laubach said. “It’s incredibly impressive, she’s a super star.”

Ruby is a “super star” sophomore, who’s competing for the first time as a varsity high school track athlete, and is the 2A/3A district lady to beat.

She grew up running road races, but didn’t compete until her seventh grade year when she ran the mile and the 400. Ruby said she started competitive running because she wasn’t that good at other sports and thought distance might be her element.

“I like running a lot,” she said. “When I played soccer kicking wasn’t my favorite part, running was.”

When she was in ninth grade, her running career really took off because she worked a lot harder, Ruby said. She trains six days a week in season and off season she and a group of other runners meet three times a week to run around Kingston.

“Ruby is a very hard worker and dedicated athlete,” said coach Roger Coffman. “She is someone you can rely on every day to work hard.”

But it’s not just at practices that Ruby works hard. She runs the 800, 1600, 3200 and a leg of the 4x400 relay. Sure she gets tired on meet days, but she’s found a way to work in a little R and R.

“The best thing is to get a blanket and sleep between races,” she said. “The best thing is to just not move at all between races.”

Her favorite race is the mile because she’s been doing that the longest and feels most comfortable running it. But her best race is the 800.

She won the 800 at the prestigious Shelton Invite on April 12. She came from behind to win that race.

“She was so tired and she was just so mentally strong,” Laubach said.

Ruby said she wasn’t hopeful she’d win the Shelton Invite 800 because her focus was on the 3200 that day.

“The 800 came and I decided to push everything I had left,” Ruby said, “and I guess it was enough.”

Ruby also swept the 800, 1600, and 3200 at last weekend’s Olympic League Championships and set a personal record, breaking her own school record, in the 800 with a time of 2:18.43.

Although Ruby is making waves she said she tries not to be “cocky,” but she’s human and admits to comparing her times with others online. She’s learned her times are pretty fast, but also pretty slow she said, as Washington state is home to some very fast runners. But having competition to beat and fast competition works to her advantage.

“I usually do better if I’m seeded lower and I have something to work up from,” Ruby said.

She’ll use the stiff post-season track competition to reach her goal of breaking the five minute mark in the 1600 and the 11 minute mark in the 3200.

“I think if I go on to districts and state I’ll be able to do it with the competition that’s there,” she said.

The most notable chapter of Ruby’s story isn’t that she’s posted the league times to beat as a newcomer to high school track; it’s her character.

Both Laubach and Coffman couldn’t praise Ruby’s team spirit and humility enough. They said she gets more excited when the team does well than when she does well. Instead of basking in the spot light Ruby always puts the focus back on her teammates.

“She gets so excited when the team does well and congratulates everybody. She may have lapped a girl in the two mile, but she’s right there on the sidelines cheering her on,” Laubach said. “She’s going to make you feel welcome. She’s a person that makes every coach, team member and parent proud to be associated with her.”

Ruby heads into the sub-district tournament leading the pack by more than one second in the 800, 17 seconds in the 1600 and a 24 seconds in the 3200. The tournament is Friday and Saturday at North Mason.

And as one of the ladies to beat Ruby is finally coming to terms with her standing.

“I guess now if I was to introduce myself I’d say I was a runner,” she said. “I think it’s something I definitely want to keep doing.”

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