Accident may have strengthened Gregoire’s bid for championship

Accident may have strengthened Gregoire's bid for championship by Nicole Mosberger and Ally Eckert Never mind that he is only in his sophomore year, never mind that the 30-40 mph gusts of wind didn't affect his 115 pound body, never mind that he broke the state course record in the worst weather of the year, and never mind that he beat second place by more than 20 seconds.

But the most amazing hurdle this year's State B Cross Country Champ overcame was that he walked away from a potentially deadly accident just 40 hours before breaking the ribbon.

"Perhaps my accident made me stronger and enabled me to win," says an excited Robert Gregoire the night after his big race.

Gregoire, a 15-year-old from Wakonda High School, while driving home after school on Thursday, Oct. 23, reached down to see what was rattling in his 1989 Chevy pickup when his direction suddenly changed to the oncoming lane. He tried to correct his steering but headed for the opposite ditch and rolled on its top.

It was a terrible sight for passers-by; thinking the worse for the occupant of the vehicle. However, Gregoire thought quickly and climbed out of the driver's window to safety. Only a few scratches and a minor bruised knee reminded him of how important wearing a seatbelt is. Gregoire did wear his seatbelt.

That night a shaken, yet determined Gregoire packed for his trip to Huron, site of this year's State Cross Country Meet. The team arrived one day early to test out the course and to psyche themselves up for a true championship season.

The team was met with the worst weather of the season on race day, Saturday, Oct. 25. The thermometer read 43 degrees, 35 mph wind gusts, accompanied by rain and sleet � miserable weather.

"As threatening as was the weather, it still wasn't as scary as were those few minutes when my life flashed before me," said Gregoire.

Looking over at the team gave him a big sigh of comfort. They had won every meet, except one, this year.

Gregoire himself had only been beat by one runner this year, last year's state champion. Gregoire had 10 first place wins out of 14 this year.

Just the strength of his teammates gave him confidence. Enough to win the race and with his teammates to win the Team State Championship.

Looking back at his accident he is happy to be alive. This whole traumatic experience has taught him how to enjoy life more and embrace his celebrations.

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