Dickson County's Clay Ruf makes his way to the finish line during the Hershey's Tennessee Northwest district track and field even on June 11. Ruf is a defending state champion, winning the 400-meter race and the standing long jump at last year's Hershey's State meet.

Local athletes share memories of Hershey's state meet

Last Saturday, young track athletes from throughout middle Tennessee converged on Dickson County High to compete in the Tennessee Northwest District Hershey’s Track and Field meet.

The event is the qualifier for the annual Hershey’s state meet later this month. Last year, four different Dickson County athletes fought their way to the top of the awards podium to earn six state championships.

Clay Ruf won the 9-10 boys’ 400-meter race and the standing long jump. Riley Kilian won the 11-12 girls’ 400 and 800-meter races. Her sister Sam Kilian won the girls’ 9-10 softball throw and Braxton won the 11-12 boys’ 400-meter.

Clay’s father, Kyle Ruf, said that it was the yearly elementary school track meets that helped spark an interest in his son to compete in the sport.

“He’s had real good success in the sport and this year he was fortunate enough to win the first elementary school cross country race,” Ruf said. “That’s just kind of helped keep the interest sparked in all of this.”

Of course, Clay is looking forward to competing for more state titles, but for his father, watching Clay win last year was as big a moment as any he could imagine.

“Because it was totally unexpected, it was a little overwhelming for a few seconds because in the four hundred race it came down a half a step. I didn’t know he had won until they had gone up on the stand.”

Clay, who will start his first year at William James Middle in August, will be moving up to the 11-12 age group but is ready for the challenge – in a sport he loves and finds as natural as walking. Of course, he also likes to win.

“At last year’s state, the closest guy got ahead, and I wanted to win in the four hundred. I just gave it all I had and tried to beat him.”