Home Team: Livorno’s Denkins wins first attempt at 3,000 during final event before school’s closure
May 17, 2007
No one can accuse Livorno miler Jacob Denkins of not having a sense of the moment.
At a track meet Saturday at Aviano, Italy — the last meet of the last season of all time for Livorno High School — Denkins won the 1,500 meter run.
He posted a personal-best 4 minutes, 57.9 seconds to beat friend, teammate and runner-up Sebastian Miller by more than 26 seconds. The one-two finish for tiny Livorno might have been drama enough for most, but not for Denkins.
A high- and long-jumper as well as a miler, Denkins decided on the spur of the moment to try the 3,000 meters.
“The 3,000 is a funny story,” Denkins, a sophomore, said Tuesday by telephone. “I never signed up for it, but I noticed that Sebastian was going to be in it and that it was going to be the last race in Livorno history.
“I had never run the 3,000 before, but I wanted to be in that last race. I asked if I could run, and they looked at my time in the 1,500 and said to go ahead.”
Denkins went ahead.
He won, clocking an 11:44.10 that topped runner-up Mike Brown of Aviano by 38.2 seconds. Miller placed third to put two Lions on the medals podium for the second time that day and the final time in school history.
The ramifications of that feat weren’t lost on Denkins.
“As I was running, I was thinking, ‘This is the last time I’ll ever do this for Livorno,’ ” said Denkins, who has attended the stucco school shaded by ancient Mediterranean pines for four years. “So I gave it everything I had.”
Denkins, competing in his first year of track and just his third career meet, said the 3,000 meters went smoothly.
“It wasn’t that difficult,” he said. “We run a lot of distance in practice. I tried to keep a good pace. I thought I could keep going on forever.”
For Denkins and his seven track teammates, going on forever won’t be possible, at least at Livorno. The school is to close next month. Denkins is moving to the Washington, D.C., area where his father has been assigned to Walter Reed Medical Center. Those who are staying at Camp Darby, he said, are ticketed for a two-hour daily bus ride to an international school in Florence.
“It’s kind of sad,” said Denkins, who admitted to being shocked at Livorno’s small size after arriving from Ansbach. “It’s kind of like a small family. In other schools there are groups, but here we hang out in Tirrenia and Pisa, go for pizza together or go to the beach.”
In addition to the 20 points Denkins earned for his eight-person team with the distance-double victory, he chipped in four for a fourth-place high jump of 5 feet, 5 inches. Miller’s second in the 1,500 and third in the 3,000 were good for 14 points as the Lions boys team totaled 49, pulling up third behind Italy giants Naples and Aviano and ahead of larger schools such as Sigonella, Vicenza and Marymount International School of Rome.
This season’s success has inspired Denkins, an outfielder-second baseman whose favorite sport is baseball, to continue his track career.
“I had never been on a track team before,” he said. “After this experience, I find it enjoyable.”