Billy Borst was seizing the moment.
The finish line was approaching.
Determination was etched on his face like a permanent tattoo.
Victory was in sight.
Thunderous support from teammates, rival school athletes, and the crowd rolled like thunder through the Manteca High stadium Thursday afternoon.
Billy was running a routine 800 meters heat into a priceless moment.
East Union High teammates and athletes from rival Manteca High fell in behind him as he neared the finish line.
The deafening sound and the sea of smiles that greeted Billy as he crossed the finish line paled in comparison to Billy’s determined spirit.
The moment Billy crossed that white chalk line will be imbedded forever in the hearts of those cheering him on to a victory that seemed impossible just three years ago.
Billy started his career as a Lancer just three years ago in a wheelchair.
He wasn’t willing to accept having to use a wheelchair, though, as his fate in life. He was not only going to walk but he was going to run.
He was tired, fatigued and undoubtedly having the time of his life when he completed the second of two laps around the Guss Schmiedt Field track.
“It was great,” Billy said in an interview Friday. “It was the first time I had done it and I was kind of nervous at first.
“To have all those people supporting me, it was cool.”
Billy suffers from cerebral palsy. Conquering the 800m at Manteca was just the latest in a laundry list of stunning accomplishments. From his first Valley Oak League meet until his most recent, Billy’s accomplishments have been nothing short of miracle.
“Billy, when he started as a freshman and came to this school, he could not even step up one step to get into a classroom, had to use the ramps and was in a wheelchair,” East Union coach Don Tisher said. “Last year at Oakdale I took him to his very first race and I had him run the 200 for the first time. He fell down; I said, Billy get up. H e fell down again. He fell down again and got back up to finish that race. And what he said to me, I’ll never forget. He said ‘Coach, I finished.’
“Since that day, Billy has gone from the 100 to the 200 to the 400 to yesterday when he finished the 800.”
Everyone in attendance rallied for Billy, trying to inject any ounce of support available to help him continue.
So many times when we find ourselves pulling for someone or something it’s to bolster our own strength. No matter who you are, or what team, event, or athlete you are rooting for, seeing Billy Borst rewriting his path right before us, has its own way of providing inspiration, with or without consent.
“He is out here every single day and he works harder than any of us,” East Union track and field standout Jerrica Hauk said. “It is amazing for him to even be out here and he has improved so much. It is so great to watch him on the track, especially at meets, because everyone starts to run with him and the crowd just starts roaring.
“It’s great having him as part of our program because he is everybody’s role model; he never stops working harder than everyone.”
Billy’s most recent accomplishment was overwhelming for all those in attendance, but for him it was just another big moment in a life full of miracles.
“The kid never stops and he never complains,” Tisher said. “And I guess the best feeling of all is when you watch the kids on the other teams come up and yell for him, they clap for him and our team just follows him around the track.
“That kid brings me to tears every single time he competes.”