BLANCHARD — Montabella senior Kensi Garvey finally got what she had long hoped for.
Garvey finished first at the Division 4 state track finals at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids on Saturday in the 800-meter run, making her a state champion and an all-state runner for the third time.
Garvey ran two laps in 2:21.58, beating Colette Lark of Adrian Lenawee Christian by almost a second.
“It felt pretty great,” Garvey said of winning. “Just the release of pressure. A lot of people were expecting me to win. I was really nervous for the race.”
Saturday’s race was the third time Garvey had qualified for the 800. Garvey finished sixth in 2015 and eighth in 2014.
Garvey noted this year, she had her biggest rival in Lark right with her at the start.
“I was feeling, I liked the way I was placed in my alley,” she said. “I was focused on one girl and I was placed with her. I didn’t want to lose contact with her and that’s really important for me.”
Garvey said she held back on Lark until late in the second lap.
“I went out more conservative than I was originally planning to,” she said. “But it felt great in the last 200. I was able to go by her pretty easily.”
Garvey noted it was her last-ever race in high school. Garvey will be running both cross country and track next year for Ferris State University.
“I can’t think of any way you would want a senior to end their career,” she said. “Coach (Dan) Gibson and I were talking about this when I was a freshman and it’s great to see it happen.”
Gibson noted Garvey is the second girl in Montabella history to be an individual state track champion. Jenny Delamater was a state champion in 1999 in the 300-meter hurdles and 2000 in the 100-meter dash.
“We purposely kept her out of the 1,600 to keep her ready for the 800,” Gibson said. “She ran a smart race and we were pretty excited.”
Gibson said the little bit of a gap between Garvey and Lark was the way he and Garvey wanted the race to go.
“She (Garvey) ran her race exactly the way we had it scripted for her,” he said. “She purposely wanted to hold back because she had a great kick at the end. It worked the way we intended her for it to work.”
Gibson said Garvey’s notable effort in her career was in the regionals.
“Her biggest contribution was helping us win a regional title because it was our first in school history,” he said. “It was a team goal and it was an individual goal for her. She contributed big time to help.”
Garvey also ran in the 1,600-meter relay. Garvey, Brynn Lobert, Gabby Dobbrastine and Kim Buskirk finished 11th (4:19.70).