TWIN FALLS — Gage Silva and Adam Taylor laughed as they slowly lifted into the air in the Lighthouse Christian Fellowship foyer, holding a championship banner
The gym’s not quite complete yet at Lighthouse Christian, allowing the athletes to enjoy a scissor-lift ride to hoist their own track and field banner to go with the ones won in football in 2011 and volleyball in 2012 and 2013.
For Silva, who said Wednesday he’s not fond of heights, it was an experience to savor as he remembered how he and a dozen or so other athletes repaid the support of Lighthouse Christian’s burgeoning athletic program.
“I’m just blessed,” he said. “We have a lot of support here, with all the people coming out to cheer for us and driving all the way to Middleton (for the state meet).”
Silva, a junior, was the seasoned veteran on the 1A boys state championship team. He was the 2013 state champion in the 3A 300 hurdles when he competed for Buhl. He added both 1A hurdle titles to his resume last weekend.
He and track coach and athletic director Darren van Hofwegen plotted point strategies out, determining where their rivals were strong and what they would have to do to achieve their goal of a state champion-ship.
They weren’t even the favorites in their own district, yet they peaked at the right time and shared the district championship with Raft River.
But Gage Silva, Bryce Kostelecky and freshman Eric Silva all won events — each Silva standing atop the podium twice — as the Lions outdistanced Logos by 11 points to win their first track title. The headliners were complemented by Luc Fadness, Adam Taylor, Cooper Goettle, Spencer Griffith and Ty Giardina, each of whom helped score at or ahead of their projections to make the championship safe.
“It started with Bryce on Friday morning,” Gage Silva said. “He was the spark that lit our fire for the weekend, and we all started to think this could really happen.”
Kostelecky won the high jump, entering the field at 5-foot-8 — four inches taller than usual — and clear-ing 6-4 for the winning height.
All who spoke to the ¬Times-News Wednesday said Kostelecky’s performance was a tone-setter for the rest of the weekend. For him, it was all about the battle in his mind — and in his stomach.
“I was really nervous all Friday morning with butterflies. The other guys were eating breakfast all re-laxed, and I felt sick just looking at food,” said Kostelecky, whose event started at 9 a.m. Friday. “But I think it was good to start so early, because the sun didn’t wear me out, and it wasn’t too hot out yet.”
The battle went back and forth between Lighthouse Christian and Logos over the rest of the meet, but as soon as Eric Silva kept his nerve and won the 200 meters, the Lions were champions no matter how well Logos fared the rest of the way.
It was a far cry from the 100, where Silva was favored but false-started in Friday’s preliminaries.
“That was just a freshman mistake. I was sad, but you can’t do anything about it. I’ve got three years left to try to win that. … (For the 200) I just told myself to stay calm,” said Eric Silva. “It was my last race, so I wanted to make sure I went all-out. I didn’t know (the points race) was over until someone congratulated me. I was pretty happy after that.”
Gage Silva had a hand in Eric Silva’s immediately looking toward the future: Gage Silva false-started in the high hurdles at the 3A District IV meet in 2013, costing himself a chance at a hurdles double champi-onship. He bounced back and claimed it this year.
There are plenty of other bright spots in the future.
Out of the eight athletes who qualified for the state meet, just one, Luc Fadness, was a senior. That gives the Lions plenty of options as they plot out their title defense — one they hope comes with a little deeper roster as the champs work the hallways at school trying to get their classmates to consider giving track and field a try.
“It certainly does help (with getting more kids out),” van Hofwegen said. “These guys get their medals and they win titles, but they’ve always been about the team, and how they can score points for the team. The guys who didn’t make it to state still feel like they were a part of winning this championship. That’s what’s great about this group, and guys want to be a part of that.”