All in good fun, but appropriate.
The Miner star had just run the second-fastest time in Utah high school cross-country history at the 2012 state meet at Sugar House Park Wednesday to earn his third-consecutive individual title. He ran so hard that, for the first time in three seasons, he collapsed after breaking through the finish line and needed help walking for a few seconds afterward.
He ran so hard that he almost beat his 2011 state-winning time (15:50.03) by a full minute. Saarel obliterated the field, winning by more than 33 seconds and finishing second in the record books with a time of 14:56.7. Saarel missed the all-time (1A-5A) state record -- which was set by Judge Memorial's Luke Puskedra in 2007 (14:54.6) -- by just over two seconds.
"At the end there, I heard people yelling and I heard the word 'record' and I just told myself, 'Go, man, go, give it everything you have," he said. "I just didn't quite make it."
To Saarel, it was a missed opportunity, but to the amazed crowd, it was the final chapter in the book on one of the most talented runners in the state's history.
"This is once-in-a-lifetime," said Park City head coach Jeff Wyant. "You don't see this twice in a coaching career. You just don't."
Wyant said he remembers Puskedra's running style, that he enjoyed getting out in front of the pack early and keeping his distance. But that's not how Saarel likes to race -- if there is someone to keep up with and pass, that's his kind of battle.
"If you put the two head-to-head, Ben would win," Wyant said. "(He had) a perfect pace. I just wish he had somebody to run with him. I think he could go faster if somebody was with him."
Coming into Wednesday's state meet, Saarel said he was aiming for a 15:25 finish, but once the race started everything was working for him in his final championship race as a high schooler.
"Everything just felt good," he said. "I think I'm a second-half runner and things really went well today and I think I'm going to use that in the future."
The Park City High School boys' squad finished fourth overall in the team standings as Ogden won the 3A state title and Wasatch came in second. Along with Saarel, senior Colter Merritt (15th, 16:21.0), junior Kyle Beling (29th, 16:44.1), senior Nate Gideon (33rd, 16:47.3), sophomore Guy Eroh (49th, 17:07.9), junior Ian Aper (69th, 17:32.5) and senior Bryson Allison (83rd, 17:50.1) all helped pace the Miners.
Asked to reflect on his three years running at Park City High School, Saarel said he learned how to become a racer as well as a winner through paying attention to what people had to say and paying attention to the details.
"I'm going to remember the people. They're the nicest people on the planet," he said. "I remember coming in as a sophomore and not knowing what to expect, but I listened and I've learned from those people -- my coaches, my teammates and my parents, too."
Wyant said Saarel's achievements at Park City will never be forgotten but added that he will rarely bring up his name as an example to future youngsters.
"I would not put any guy under that kind of pressure," he said, "because here's the simple truth: I think Ben's school records will be here far longer than I am."
As Saarel stared at the ground, a look of astonishment in his eyes, realizing he had just become the second runner ever to run a state meet under 15 minutes, he shook his head.
"Luke Puskedra, man," he said. "I've heard that name so many times."
Someday, a fellow runner will be saying the same thing about a guy named Ben Saarel.