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Adesh Bassi was in his room, stressing over his physics final, when his dad popped his head through the doorway. It was the first weekday afternoon Bassi, a senior at Maria Carrillo, had spent at home in months. Usually, he was at track practice.

It was May 21.

“‘Coach Fogg called. He was asking if you can come to practice and run this Friday,’” Bassi remembered his dad saying to him. “I had no idea what my dad was even talking about.”

What Pumas coach Greg Fogg called Bassi about was this: Carrillo’s vaunted 4x400-meter boys’ relay team had suffered a serious blow when junior Will McCloud strained his hamstring at the first practice after the North Coast Section Redwood meet. The Pumas needed a fourth runner to carry the baton — literally — until McCloud could return.

The team wanted Bassi to run a leg of the relay at the North Coast Section Meet of Champions in Berkeley May 25-26.

But at Redwood, Bassi had finished the 400 in 53.29 to come in 19th out of 24 runners.

And with that finish, he assumed his prep running career was over.

“I was ready to wrap up my season, to be honest,” he said. “I was pretty disappointed about the way I ran at Redwood. I ran significantly slower than I was projected to.”

“I was kind of done with all of it,” he said.

And then the phone rang.

Fogg needed Bassi. But it was not a straight swap. Bassi didn’t have McCloud’s speed, but he was a four-year veteran who had run the 4x400 relay plenty of times. He knew timing and handoffs. He was friends with the other runners.

But Fogg knew it was a risk, especially with the super speed that shows up at MOC.

“With McCloud out, we ran a guy who is two seconds slower,” he said of Bassi. “Hey, our team is good enough that we have two seconds to give. We will run Adesh and let Will heal.”

Fogg acknowledged it was a tall order. Although it had only been two days, Bassi had moved on.

“He was punched out,” he said. “He was ready to go on to (his) last couple of days of high school social life. I think it was harder for him to get punched back in. There is the physical component, but there is also the mental.”

Bassi agreed.

“Mentally I turned myself off,” he said after his lackluster finish at Redwood. “I was pretty down.”

But saying yes gave Bassi the opportunity to run on a huge track stage at the Meet of Champions. It also was a chance to get the sour taste of the Redwood meet out of his mouth.

And in a way, it was a chance to redeem himself with the sport that had given him so much after the Tubbs fire destroyed his home in October.

“I knew during practice there was never a moment when I felt unmotivated,” he said. “I had a lot of passion since my house burned down. Running was always there for me.”

Saying yes to this temporary gig seemed like a chance to rewrite the last act of his prep running career.

“I feel like I didn’t give running back what it gave me,” he said.

So Bassi returned to the track and got back to work.

“We had it down,” he said of the timing of handoffs. “We knew each other. It really didn’t take much time.”

The foursome qualified for Saturday’s final with a 3:22.62 on Friday — second fastest of the day.

But on Saturday, the pressure was quite a bit heavier. The Pumas’ 4x100 team had been disqualified in the first running event of the day after a false start. Then sprint ace Severin Ramirez finished out of qualifying range in both the 100- and 200-meter races.

The 4x400 — the last event of the day — was the Pumas’ last chance. And Bassi knew it.

“I felt like, ‘I can’t believe I’m here,’” he said. “In the moment, I felt so focused, like I could compete with anyone there.

“Just keep it close, that was my goal,” he said. “I really tried not to overdo what my duties were. I just tried to keep it close and that was it. That was my only job.”

Ramirez — perhaps spurred by the sting of disappointment earlier in the day — ran first, took the lead in the final 100 meters of his leg and handed the baton to Bassi.

And then Bassi stumbled.

As he took the baton from Ramirez, he sort of staggered, but he never went down. He fell to fourth place after 200 meters and to fifth after 300.

But when he handed the baton to senior Demetre Coffey, the Pumas were still within striking distance. He had kept it close.

Coffey hung in and kept the Pumas in fifth and seemed to close the gap a smidge.

He handed the baton to the anchor runner, junior Tyler Van Arden, who started in fifth place, about 20 meters behind the leader. Van Arden remained in fifth place until the home stretch. With about 30 meters to go and the Pumas seemingly out of contention, he caught the fourth-place runner. Then he passed the third-place runner.

Then he crossed the finish line.

The Pumas were going to state. Three of the four runners — Ramirez, Coffey and Van Arden, with that remarkable anchor effort — ran personal bests.

They needed those PRs. The Pumas coaches estimated the team would have to run a 3:21 to qualify for state. Wrong. A 3:21 would have left them in sixth place. The team finished in 3:19.34.

Bassi’s time was not his best. But at that moment, it’s hard to argue he had ever run better or had ever put in a more important leg.

“It was a feeling of relief. I feel like I accomplished more than I set out to,” he said.

His teammates?

“They were grateful. They believed in me,” he said. “They kept on telling me, ‘Thank you, Adesh. You saved us.’”

So Bassi’s job is done. Fogg says the rested Will McCloud is ready to race in Clovis this weekend. And Bassi? About three hours before the starter’s pistol launches his teammates in the 4x400 relay at Veterans Memorial Stadium tonight, he will be in cap and gown, walking across the stage at Maria Carrillo’s graduation ceremony.

In the end, everything worked out. None of it was how anyone planned, but when is that ever the case?

“It was all positive,” Bassi said. “It was completely positive.”

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield.

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