It had been a long day, yet perhaps the most meaningful in the track career of North Allegheny sprinter Kyle Shivetts.
As Shivetts arrived back at his family's McCandless home Thursday night, the significance of what had occurred just hours earlier began to flood his mind.
"I was full of happiness," Shivetts recalled. "It was what I've been working for the whole time. When the day was over, there were no more nerves and no more stress. I knew what I could do. I went out and did it and came out on top."
On top of the medal stand, that is.
Shivetts had been in hot pursuit of WPIAL gold since he was a freshman, finishing in the top five in either the 100- or 200-meter dashes in each of his first three seasons.
In his final attempt as a senior, Shivetts delivered a breakthrough performance. Shivetts ran the 200 faster than any WPIAL athlete this year, earning him first place at the WPIAL Class AAA individual track championships at Baldwin High School.
Shivetts finished in 21.80 seconds. It was actually just the third-best time of his career, but considering the stage on which it was achieved, it likely felt like he had run faster than he ever had. Shivetts beat out a group that included second-place finisher Jae'Len Means of Gateway, who ran a 22.20, and Seneca Valley's Jonathan Dorogy, who finished third with a 22.35.
"It was great," North Allegheny coach John Neff said. "Kyle has worked so hard. He has a whole lot of talent. You only get a couple of athletes like Kyle over the course of a career."
Shivetts began competing in track at a younger age than most of his peers, and the time and effort he has put into getting better has paid off. Shivetts was 9 years old when he first hit the track, and since then has been a regular in USATF events. He ran a 21.64 -- still a personal best -- and placed third at the USATF Junior Nationals in Wichita, Kan., the summer after his sophomore year.
"He's run a long, long time, and has a lot of races under his belt," Neff said.
In the WPIAL championships, it had been a series of close calls for Shivetts. As a freshman, he placed fifth in the 200. The next year, a hip injury had him running at less than 100 percent. He still finished fourth in the 100, but did not run the 200.
Last season, he suffered a heartbreaking loss in the 200. Shivetts led throughout the race, but was passed by Gateway's Aaron Barlow in the final 5 meters. Shivetts settled for second.
"I've been chasing down goals since my sophomore year," Shivetts said. "My freshman year, I had nothing to lose, but I was unlikely to win. My sophomore year I got hurt. My junior year was supposed to be my year, but I got ran down. [Winning this year] meant everything."
Shivetts, who missed a few weeks at the beginning of the season due to a sprained ankle, has run a 10.97 in the 100 this season, but chose not to compete in the event at the WPIAL meet. He did, however, run on North Allegheny's 400 relay team that finished sixth and qualified for the PIAA championships. The team also includes senior Greg Baum and juniors Isaac Weaver and Andrew Sumpter.
In addition to Shivetts, North Allegheny had two other WPIAL champions. Brett Neugebauer finished first in the pole vault and the 3,200 relay team also finished first. The relay team consisted of junior Mike Becich, and sophomores Seamus Love, Scott Seel and Matt McGoey.
A year from now, Shivetts said he plans on running for Southern Illinois University. He has made a verbal commitment to the school.
With a WPIAL gold now in hand, Shivetts has shifted his focus to the PIAA championships, which begin Friday at Shippensburg University. Shivetts was eliminated in a 200 semifinal heat last season.
"There's a lot of good competition in the 4-by-100 [relay], so I'm not sure if we'll get past preliminaries, but we're going to try our best," Shivetts said. "The 200 is still my main event. I think I have a good chance of winning."