What were some of the highlights from your high school track and field career?
Most of the highlights in my track and field career came in my senior season. Starting with the indoor season, I hadn't competed in about a year due to the 2020 outdoor season being cancelled. So the last time I had ran the 400, which was basically my main event or main focus, my indoor PR was 55.02 from my junior indoor season. The biggest highlight of my senior indoor season was my time drop from that 55.02 to 51.64.
On top of the time drop, I also was able to make it to D1 indoor state at SPIRE and placed 15th. Moving to the outdoor season, some of my biggest highlights were our school records at New Philadelphia High School. I was lucky enough to be the starting leg in our 4x100 record and 4x200 record. In the 4x100, our old school record was 43.74, that lasted for 35 years, which we were able to break with a new record of 42.74. In the 4x200, the old record was 1:30.84, that lasted about 50 years, which we were able to break with a new record of 1:28.91. Along with these records, being able to go to D1 state in the 4x200 was a big accomplishment, especially after making it out of the Pickerington Region.
Discuss some struggles or adversity that you encountered along the way and had to overcome?
I've had a couple minor injuries throughout my career but nothing tops one thing in particular that I've encountered. When I was about 15 years old, I went to complete my physical at a local healthcare facility and it turned out I was diagnosed with Scoliosis. For those who don't know, Scoliosis is a severe curvature in the spine. At first, we tried to use a brace at night but later we found out it did not work. At this point, I decided to have Spinal Fusion Surgery after my sophomore year of school. This surgery is where the doctors would take two metal poles and align my spine with them in order to make it straight.
May 20th, 2019 was the day of my surgery. After the surgery, I spent several days in the hospital before I could go home. Once I got home, everything was focused on the recovery process. The recovery took 3 months until I could start going back to sports and intense activities. This was a very inspiring experience in my life, not being able to walk for more than a minute at a time, not being able to get up by myself at times and even spending up to 72 hours being awake due to the pain and discomfort, it all has taught me to never take anything for granted.
Aside from the competition, what was the best thing about being a part of your school's program?
The best thing about being a part of my school's program was 100% the brotherhood. Throughout the past couple years, I was able to make good friends with the people I run with. I consider them my best friends. We had fun together, ran together, struggled together, and we picked each other up.
With the quality of runners we had this year, we were able to push each other to our limits and make each other better. Especially our relay team, we were like brothers to each other. During practice, we would critique each other and make one another better, and then out of practice, we could all mess around and have fun. Competing in sports is a great experience, but doing it with your best friends is on a whole other level.
Who are the coaches and teammates from the past four years that you'd like to thank?
I would like to thank my high school coaches, Coach Rodgers, Coach Palombo, Coach Brady, Coach Vanarsdalen, and Coach Scabona. Our high school is a strong coaching staff that not many schools have the luxury of having. Each coach gave as much effort and time as physically possible so we could be the best we could be. I would like to thank Coach Rodgers especially when it came to being as committed as he was. Throughout all indoor and outdoor, he was just as interested in heat sheets, performances, and competition as I was.
I'd also like to thank my AAU coaches at ATP Elite, Coach Stokes and Coach Mike. Without these two, I would not be anywhere close to where I am today. I'd like to also thank several of my teammates from both my AAU team and high school team, Caden Richmond, Trevor Bean, Reise Meechan, Clayton Elder, and Tellis Horne. All of these guys pushed me to my limit each practice and made me the athlete I am today. Caden and I were part of both the same high school and AAU team so we were able to go through the same process and we knew what it took to get where we are today.
What are your plans and goals for the future? Do you intend on continuing with the sport in college or in another capacity?
I will be attending Ashland University to major in biology and minor in coaching. I'll also be running track and field. I'll be running the multi-events like the decathlon and indoor heptathlon. Before I start college though, this summer on July 27th and 28th I will be competing at USATF Junior Olympic Nationals in the decathlon.
Once I get to college, my goal first is to be conference champ and then national champ one day. The big goal is to be able to go pro in the decathlon. If not, for right now I plan to be either a sports surgeon or possibly an elite track and field coach. In fact, this past summer I was able to conduct my first ever speed and agility camp for middle schoolers!
What advice would you give to a younger athlete who's hoping to have a successful and enjoyable high school career?
There are many pieces of advice that I could give but the best general piece of advice I could give is to not ask questions and just work hard. It doesn't matter how little time you have or how many odds are stacked against you. I used to think the odds were against me to do what I am able to do now but with hard work, anything is possible.