BILLINGS — Just when you thought you’d exhausted topics to discuss with Lucas Gibb — and there are a lot of topics, from his astounding academics to his community service to his three-sport career at Billings West — he innocently drops another nugget.
When asked about how he’ll spend his time before he heads to Duke University (more on that later), he said the Gibb family has a summer vacation planned to visit Spain. And that he, Lucas, plans to run with the bulls.
Of course he does.
He’s done the research (of course he has) and said “something like 10 people” have died since 1917. A quick Internet search, for whatever that’s worth, documents 15 deaths since 1910, but close enough. Gibb said he’s not one to back down from a challenge, but added he doesn’t consider himself a thrill seeker, either.
“I’m staying away from those bull horns,” he said with a smile. “I’m not going anywhere near that.”
Judging by the resume Gibb has accumulated, he hasn’t run from much in life.
Take up a musical instrument? Check. Though athletics eventually got in the way, Gibb learned to play both the saxophone and piano.
Tackle school? Check. All his classes except for weightlifting are advanced placement (physics, English, Spanish, statistics and government), and he has a 4.64 grade-point average.
Provide community service? Check. With help from Billings Central student Carter Song, Gibb took a cue from Project Backboard and started a public art project for the basketball courts at Lillis Park on the West End. As part of the volunteer community engagement project with Billings Parks and Recreation, the courts were sealed in the fall, and all that’s left is to repaint them in a Montana-themed design conceived by Song.
And athletics? He’s a state champion in track (a member of West’s 4 x 400 relay team), a state champion in football and the Class AA defensive MVP, and a starter on the Golden Bears’ basketball team.
There’s more. So much more.
“He’s a busy boy,” West football and track and field coach Rob Stanton said. “He’s one of the few kids you can text at 6 in the morning and get a response. Most kids you don’t hear back for three hours.”
We could add that Gibb is a National Merit semifinalist, meaning he was in the top 1 percent of juniors who take the PSAT; has a 35 ACT, which is again in the top 1 percent; and scored a perfect 800 on his math SAT. Or that he and schoolmate Tyler Linfesty offered free math tutoring during their lunch period once a week one semester.
You see a list of all the things that Gibb, who is also an avid chess player and Sudoku solver, is involved in or has accomplished, and the eyes start to glaze over. Not that that’s any fault of Gibbs’.
“Since I’ve been at West — I think this is 16 years — we’ve been pretty fortunate to have some amazing kids come through … all-state players, 4.0 (grade point average) kids and this and that,” West basketball coach Kelly Darragh said. “But he’s almost on another level.”
Darragh could go on and on about Gibb, and for the most part of a 20-minute conversation, he did. Darragh briefly got sidetracked by a spiel about the importance of parents avoiding the temptation to have their child specialize in one sport, but that mainly served as a basis to detail how well-rounded an athlete Gibb is and how big of a role time management plays in a student-athlete’s successes.
Because of Gibb’s athleticism and dogged determination, Darragh hands him the dirty assignments, like rebounding and guarding the other team’s best offensive player. Whatever the sport, put the otherwise mild-mannered Gibb between the lines and he becomes, well, almost mean.
It’s become a sort of running joke to see if the aggressive Gibb can stay out of foul trouble. He rarely does.
Gibb’s standout football season caught the eyes of schools like Montana and Montana State. Admittedly, Gibb said, it’d be fun to remain teammates with Jesse Owens and Trevin Gradney with the Griz. But Gibb has already been accepted to Duke, where he plans to study engineering.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” Darragh said. “I mean, I can see him being a doctor, he can be a politician … Sometimes you sit there and think, OK, this kid could be president. I think he can be anything and do anything he wants in his future.
“I told him when he gets to the real world and he’s running the country or a Fortune 500 business or whatever he’s going to do, maybe he can hire me for a job.”
Darragh laughed at that last part. But, hey, it’s probably not a bad idea to plant that seed now.
Gibb doesn’t see politics in his future, though, so senior class president (yes, he’s that, too) will be the end of his glad-handing days. Though he did vote in the most recent election.
Other than that, Gibb sees all sorts of possibilities.
“We’ll just see where life takes me,” he said.
Wherever that is, except in Spain of course, it’s pretty certain Gibb will take the bull by the horns.