Kyle Hebert ' 10 waived his arm in a circle, not to stretch before a track meet, but to direct the motorcade of presidential candidate Barack Obama. Hebert was attending a corporate endorsement rally during Obama's campaign when he was asked by a Secret Service agent to help protect the then presidential candidate.
"You're my man," the agent said to Hebert, shaking his hand as the convoy of black Cadillacs approached.
Hebert later shook hands with Obama himself, but the words of the Secret Service's agents still stuck out distinct in Hebert's mind. Being asked to help protect the president is not something you forget.
However, the sense of trust and confidence that the agent felt toward Hebert was by no means unique.
"He's a great role model," said fellow teammate Matt Gamache '13. "He's someone to really look up to."
In the state championship meet last Saturday, Hebert won the 200-meter sprint in 23.0 seconds and the 400 meter sprint in 50.4 seconds.
He was the only runner at the meet to finish in first place in two events. As a result of his stellar performances, Hebert was awarded the Jim Wescott Award, given to the highest performing track athlete at the state championship meet.
While the University of Southern Maine eventually edged out Bowdoin for the state title, Hebert's races helped inspire the rest of the team.
In the 400-meter race, Hebert fell into the pack and settled into fifth place with 200 meters of the race completed. Hebert then surged around a turn and landed in third place.
With only 50 meters to go, he began to make a move on first place, drifting into the third lane and making a quick acceleration. He blazed past the runner in second place and with only 5 meters left to go in the race, edged out his final opponent by a mere tenth of a second.
Dramatic finishes are nothing new to Hebert.
"His comebacks are exciting to watch," said Head Coach Peter Slovenski. "When everyone else is dying at the end of a sprint race, he has another gear that no one else has."
Gamache, who started ahead of Hebert in the 400-meter race and eventually finished in fourth, mentioned the race's significance in the meet.
"The race inspired the entire team," he said. "Kyle came from behind and set an example for the whole team."
"He does everything like me, but better," Gamache added.
In the 200-meter race, Hebert pulled an impressive comeback similar to his victory in the 400. With 50 meters to go, Hebert found himself in third place and again thundered ahead to take the crown, this time by a margin of 0.2 seconds.
Kyle also finished in fifth place in the triple jump, a feat that is particularly impressive considering he was competing in between his two wins.
"The team loves to watch Kyle run," said Slovenski "He has a gift for both keeping his teammates loose and also getting them fired up for big races. He leads by example as a runner because he runs very intelligently and he leaves everything on the track."
Hebert's leadership qualities partially stem from his own ability to get excited about his teammates and his desire to see them succeed.
"Sometimes I wish I was a freshman again," Hebert said. "The freshmen this year are a great group of guys—real leaders and athletes."
Hebert, who hails from Keene, New Hampshire, has been a member of All NESCAC and All New England relay teams during his racing career.
He played on the basketball team his first year and sophomore year, but soon found track to be his best sport.
Coming into Bowdoin, Hebert had not even planned to participate in track, but when he saw kids that he was beating in high school competing, he donned the racing spikes once more.
Junior year, Hebert was plagued by a shin injury that kept him sidelined for much of the season. He stayed in shape by skating and swimming and, as his recent races demonstrate, has made a successful rebound.
Hebert adamantly states that his goal for the season is to qualify for nationals. With his hard work ethic and mass of team support, it is an achievable goal.
"This season I've raced well. I think I've had the right mix of training, rest, hydration, and a great mix of teammates to run with," he said.