Brock Smith took off running at the 2012 Big Sky State Games — and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
The lanky Billings youngster wasn’t that interested in track or any other sports two summers ago, but his father, Tom, thought he was “pretty fast” and convinced him to give some of the BSSG track and field events a try.
“He won three gold medals and a bronze,” Tom recalled. “He was shocked along with the rest of us. Since then he’s been a committed track athlete.”
Now 13, Brock, decked out in turquoise Nike running shoes, raced in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes and threw the shot put — all in about a two-hour time span — on Saturday at Daylis Stadium.
He also mingled with friends, before walking away on the 80-degree afternoon with three more gold medals, a silver and a wide smile.
“I can’t explain it,” Brock said of his performance. “Just go out and do it and enjoy it. As long as you have fun, it’s just awesome. I love to run.”
That running used to consist of just goofing around on the family ranch in Terry, or in the backyard with his younger brother, Brady, and friends.
The State Games wound up opening up a whole new avenue of athletics for Brock, who will be an eighth grader at Will James in the fall.
“I’d like to let other parents know that this is a place where a kid can go to try different things,” Tom said. “The results can be phenomenal.”
In fact, the 6-foot, 175-pound Brock will be leaving Tuesday for Houston, and the 2014 USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships.
His first event is on Wednesday, and he will also be competing in the 100, 200, 400 and shot put in Texas.
Brock’s goal at nationals: “Hang out, explore it, get some good experience. Just to say you did it. Represent Montana.”
“He needs to run at that level to see where he needs to be,” said Tom, who is also doubling as his coach.
Brock qualified for nationals at the Region 11 Championships in Boise in late June, taking silver medals in the 200 and shot put and bronze in the 100.
He won four gold medals at the state championships at Montana State University in Bozeman in mid-June.
Brock missed last year’s BSSG due to a family vacation to Hawaii.
“He was upset about it,” Tom said. “He tried to stay here.”
During the opening ceremonies for the State Games on Friday night, Brock paraded around the track, along with his father and 11-year-old brother, Brady.
“Last night was a really big deal for him,” Tom said. “He takes this really serious. He is proud to be here.”
On Saturday, in the 12-13 age division, Brock, with his long stride, won the 200 in 25.9 seconds, which is just off his personal best of 25.1.
“That’s my race,” he said afterward. “That’s the race I’m best at.”
He also cruised to victory in the 400 at 1:02.1, and triumphed by a wide margin in the shot put.
In switching from speed to strength, Brock tossed the 8-pound ball 39-feet, 5-inches and wound up winning by 10 feet.
He also won his heat in the 100, but placed second overall at 12.7 seconds.
“Every medal is a memory,” Brock said of his escalating total.
More importantly, though, Tom said the competition has completely changed Brock’s life.
“He was always in the background. He never had any confidence,” Tom said. “Now he has complete confidence. He’s learned to be a good teammate and encourage people.”
“It showed my true potential,” Brock said of the State Games. “It started my sports life.”
He is also developing into a rather unique athlete in a sport where, usually, throwers can’t run, and runners can’t throw.
“College coaches, when they find him in a few years, they’ll flip out,” Tom said. “He’ll be in the decathlon because he can run and throw and jump.”
Until then, Brock plans on trying out for quarterback this fall, in what will be his second season of football at Will James. He is also looking to give basketball a try.
Next summer, it’s definitely the State Games again.
“He says he’s coming back until he can’t come anymore,” Tom said.