By BILL ROZAK

The Union Democrat

Colby Dibble had a busy senior year at Summerville High.

Dibble ran cross country in the fall while also completing the requirements to be an Eagle scout. He spent about three to fours hours most days after school cutting weeds to make money.

He drives an old pickup truck and has two more sitting in his yard at home that he works on in his free time. His senior project was building cars in auto shop.

He shot on the school’s trap team and recently finished that season.

He also ran a little on the Bears track and field team.

In his own words, he didn’t have a moment to sit down and relax.

But he did sit down for a brief moment near the end of the school year, at a folding table in the foyer of the school’s gymnasium.

With balloons taped to both sides, Dibble grabbed a pen with his grease-stained hands and pretended to sign his National Letter of Intent to attend Stanislaus State, something he had already done, but it was part of a ceremony set up by recently retired athletic director Debbie Mager to celebrate Summerville athletes.

With a serious look on his face, Dibble, wearing a bright red Stanislaus State shirt, began to go through the motions until someone in the crowd blurted out, “Hey Colby, smile for the camera.”

That’s all it took.

The small crowd laughed and Dibble’s wide infectious grin charmed the entire room.

Dibble will run for the Stanislaus State cross country team next season and head coach Darren Holman, a Sonora native and Wildcat graduate.

Dibble is a non-scholarship recruited athlete.

“I recruited him, I want him there,” Holman said Tuesday while leading a Foothill Gold Running and Track Club practice at Sonora High’s Dunlavy Field. “If he runs well, we give out scholarships. We also increase people on scholarships to encourage behavior and academic success.”

‘A diamond in the rough’

Because of Dibble’s many interests, running has never received his full attention. He didn’t have the greatest senior cross country season by his standards. “It wasn’t spectacular,” he said.

He competed in eight cross country events his senior year, according to his athletic.net profile. In contrast, his friend Jackson McIlroy, a Sonora graduate this year and a Foothill Gold member along with Dibble, competed in 13. The two were original members of the club, before Holman was brought in to coach.

McIlroy won the Mother Lode League championship last fall. Foothill Gold members Ryan Dunlap, of Sonora, and Connor Landis, of Bret Harte, were second and fourth, respectively. Dibble finished fifth.

“I was always a little behind the group,” Dibble said. “I do a lot of other things and that makes my running suffer. I get distracted. So when they (Stanislaus State) reached out to me, I signed quickly. It was like a D2 school reaching out to me and saying, “Hey, we think you might be worth something.”

Finishing fifth, within a minute of McIlroy and 30 seconds behind Landis, is what has Holman thrilled to have Dibble running for the Warriors. Holman had coached Dibble for several years before taking the job at Stanislaus State in August of 2016.

“He’s running against people that are training seven days a week and he’s almost running the same times, Holman said. “Colby is a unique recruit for me. Normally we choose our athletes off of PR’s (personal records). Track is a beautiful sport. It’s very honest. You can look at times across the country. But what’s fortunate about working with kids from their youth, you can see their talent level and you know what potential they have. With Colby, that’s exactly what I see. He’s a multi-sport athlete with tons of things going on with running, trap shooting, scouting, wrestling, so he never focused 100 percent on track. I’ve watched runners for 30 years and I know who’s talented and who’s not, and I know he’s a diamond in the rough. I know with some training and focus, he’s gonna be fantastic.”

Dibble credits Holman for keeping him running fast despite his other interests, calling him a genius.

“I’m a lot closer to those other kids than I should be and that’s because of him,” he said.

And Holman, the 41-year old who wants to lead by example as long as he can, was out-running the best in his club Tuesday night during a 4-mile run at a 5-minute and 30-second clip.

Dibble will be reunited with good friend Thomas Kruetzfeldt, another Foothill Gold member, that is also running at Stanislaus.

Dibble’s running partner was Dan Kruetzfeldt, Thomas’ father. The faster kids in the group would be in front and Colby and Dan would run together not far behind.

Dan Kruetzfeldt died in a plane crash on July 27, 2016. Thomas Kruetzfeldt was already committed to Stanislaus State at the time when the head coach resigned and urged Holman to apply. A few days later Holman had the job.

“We are obviously all close,” Holman said. “Since Dan’s death, it has difficult for Thomas. He’s going through so much, having relationships are tough. But I think there’s a bond with close family and friends. It’s like, even though you haven’t talked for awhile, they’ll do anything for you.”

Dibble was originally looking for an automotive trade school before Stanislaus came calling. The Turlock school doesn’t have those classes so he plans to look into physics, physical science and he also finds law “intriguing.”

In his freshman year, Dibble will likely redshirt, get used to a new school and surroundings and also the 10K distances compared to the 5K races in high school.

“It’s difficult for a freshman male to make an impact their freshman year,” Holman said. “It’s normal to redshirt freshman which seems like a perfect fit. Hopefully by his sophomore year he can start to contribute. I brought him in with the hopes to see what he can possibly do over the next four years. I’m super excited.”

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