FAIRFIELD — Tyler Koss can lay you out with a hit on the football field, then run circles around you on the track.
After a stellar season on the football field for Vanden High – he was second on the team in total tackles and first in solo take-downs – and then finishing sixth in the state in boys 400-meter dash, Koss is the choice for the Daily Republic’s Boys Athlete of the Year.
It all started back in September on the gridiron, where Koss led a relentless Vikings’ defense to the second round of the playoffs. Vanden wound up 8-4 on the season and 4-1 in the Solano County Athletic Conference. The Vikings opened the playoffs with a 39-37 win over Vista del Lago of Folsom before being eliminated the next week by Inderkum of Sacramento 62-42.
All told, Koss made 135 tackles for the Vikings, just one behind teammate Elijah Williams for the team lead, and led all Vanden players with 67 solo tackles. In the 12 games, Koss averaged 11.3 tackles per outing.
“He was a great player for us,” Vanden football coach LeVon Haynes said. “He did a fantastic job of making tackles. He was second on our team and second in our league. He was always around the football.”
When spring time rolled around, Koss was back at it again on the track.
After the SCAC championships were in the books, Koss had won three events, taking the 200, 400 and running a leg on the winning 4×100 relay. He also helped the Vikings to a second-place finish in the 4×400 relay.
Up next was the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II-III championships, where Koss led his team to the overall boys section championship.
Koss one-upped himself from the SCAC finals, winning four events (200, 400 both relays), earning him and his relay partners spots in the SJS Masters meet.
Koss would eventually decide to drop the 200 so he could focus on trying to make the state championships in the 400.
The move paid off as Koss wound up third (the top 3 make it to state), finishing the 400 in a lifetime best of 47.41 seconds.
Making it to the state meet was a goal of Koss’ after failing to make the finals of the Masters meet in 2013.
Then he did what a lot of people didn’t expect – he made it to the state finals.
Koss’ time of 48.33 was only eighth fastest heading into the championship race and he wound up all the way out in Lane 9, where he wouldn’t be able top see his competition until the home stretch.
That was no problem for Koss as he stayed ahead of everyone over the first 275 meters and raced home to finish sixth and earn a state medal.
“I just went out and ran my race in Lane 9 and tried to hang on (at the end),” Koss said after the finals June 7 in Clovis. “I went out . . . and tried not to let anybody catch me until the last turn. I just gave it all I had.”
Koss will have another shot to give it all he has when he starts running for the Air Force Academy this fall.
“I’m fortunate to have another four years to run track, so I can try to keep bettering my times and keep improving,” Koss said.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.