As we near the end of the 2019 indoor season, looking back at the performances from the sophomore class sprinters, it's quite evident that they're fast! In the 60, four boys have broken 7.20 and four girls have gone sub 8. As far as the 200 goes, three boys have clocked under 23 seconds and a pair of girls have netted times faster than 26 seconds.
While athletes can certainly flourish at any point in their high school careers, there seems to be a trend where break-outs often occur during the sophomore year. Austintown Fitch coach, and friend of the MileSplit network, Seth Steiner weighed in:
"Athletes frequently make big jumps during their sophomore year. At this point, you can start to see them carry a little more sense of confidence in how they approach practices and meets. Also, they're more comfortable with the competition that the high school level offers and they know what to expect at big invitationals."
In addition to being passionate about the growth and development of his athletes, Steiner holds the credentials to back up his words. He owns a USATF Level II Certification in Sprints / Hurdles / Relays.
Among the notable 2021 performers this season has been Pickerington Central's Lorenzo Styles Jr. He's ranked #1 nation-wide in the 60 for sophomores, but forget about limiting him to grade class rankings. Styles has shown that he can mix it up with the who's who of sprinters from across the state and beyond, at any grade class. Overall, in Ohio, he's listed at #2 in the 60 and #8 in the 200.
So what's made Styles Jr. stand out so quickly? He credits much of his success to the basics: "Old-fashioned hard work and dedication is what's gotten me to where I am right now," says Styles. He also points out that he's been the beneficiary of exceptional guidance from his dad, Lorenzo Sr., as well his trainer, Tremayne Peppers, who coaches the Ohio Heat. Styles indicated that, "Coach Tremayne has helped me to perfect my form and my dad has taught me the importance of getting after it in the weight room."
Styles success isn't limited to the track, however. He's also a star wide-receiver for the Tigers football team and he's already garnered significant interest from big-time college programs. "Track has really complemented my progress in football," Lorenzo states. "My progress with track has helped me to become more explosive on the gridiron."
Perhaps what's most impressive about Styles is his selfless, team-first approach. When asked about statistics; both in football and track, he replied, "I don't care about numbers, I just want to win." And as far as winning goes, Styles knows that earning state championships won't be easy, especially when he'll be facing guys like LaCarr Trent, Zarik Brown and others, but he's not ready to count himself out. "I'm definitely shooting for first place in both events," he says.
Aside from his hunger to win, when asked where he derives his motivation, Styles was quick to point out that he's been fortunate to learn from two outstanding teammates in particular, Evan Matthews and Jaydan Wood. "They both impress me so much. Evan and Jaydan are extremely hard workers and they always strive for greatness. They inspire me to be better everyday."
Jaydan Wood's thoughts on Styles:
"When Lorenzo joined the track team during his freshman year, I knew he was going to be something special. He has amazing natural talent and he was competing well with the best guys in the state before he even had dedicated training. It's a pleasure to train with Lorenzo; he's goofy and his easy-going personality is a perfect fit for our team. I predict that Lorenzo will win several state championships during his high school career."
Evan Matthews' thoughts on Styles:
"Lorenzo does not have a ceiling when it comes to his potential on the track. His raw talent and speed are unmatched by anyone that I've ever seen. The fact that he's received so much attention from college football coaches despite just being a sophomore is a testament to his work ethic and talent. I have no doubt that Lorenzo will continue to improve and do great things in both sports."
Those are big compliments coming from a couple of athletes who know a thing or two about success on the track. Both Wood and Matthews lead the state's 400 rankings this season with marks of 55.18 and 48.90, respectively.
Continue reading about some of the sophomore sprinters who've stood out this season.