Men’s track kicks off year with historic marks

An African proverb says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Thus far, the men’s track and field team has embodied both ideals this season.

The Quakers have two meets under their belt, and while neither team scored, the support of one another as a unit was critical to the individual success of the athletes.  For sophomore sprinter and hurdler Juwan Houston, the coaching staff helped restore his love for the sport. Houston is a dual athlete who also serves as a wide receiver for the football team, the sport he was originally recruited to Guilford for.

“I knew Guilford had a track team I could possibly join,” said Houston. “(The coaches) helped me get my competitive spirit back for track.” This has become apparent in the times Houston has posted this season. Already the holder of the top three times in College history in the 60-meter hurdles, Juwan added to his resume on Jan. 12 at the East Tennessee State Track & Field Invitational, where his time of 8.86 seconds in the event placed 22nd in the 40-man field, and ranking fourth-best in College history.

This was Guilford’s best performance at the invitational, where the Quakers served as the only Division III College competing among predominantly Division I and II institutions. Houston also posted Guilford’s best time in the 200-meter dash at 23.30 seconds, good for 53rd in the 125-man field.

Other Quakers had strong individual performances as well, including senior Josephus Mitchell, who paced the Quakers in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.175 seconds, good for 47th among the 103 runners. First-year Alex Martin posted Guilford’s second-best time in the event at 7.287 seconds.

Houston also shined in the Wake Forest Invitational at JDL Fast Track on Jan. 20. He placed 16th out of 48 runners in the 60-meter hurdles, clocking in at 8.77 seconds, a mark good for third all-time in Quakers’ history. He also paced the team with a 23.47 mark in the 200-meter dash.

Fellow sophomore and football teammate Jeremiah Hedrick set the College’s standard in the Triple Jump with a distance of 13.14 meters. He also had the Quakers’ top showing in the long jump with a leap of 6.29 meters, ranking 15th among 34 leapers. “My favorite experience (of the season) would probably be getting the school record in triple jump,” said Hedrick. “Our coach has been focusing on technique and proper mechanics rigorously these past few weeks in practice for the running and jumping events and I feel like that work paid off.”

Hedrick was a standout track athlete in high school, which also prompted his decision to attend Guilford. “My high school track coach always told me I had the potential to go to school for track,” said Hedrick. “I got offers to run for a couple of colleges while in high school, but I have a passion for both football and track. Guilford College drew me in with their academic standings and football program.  “I found Guilford had a track program and that made me love Guilford even more because I was able to pursue both my (athletic) passions,” Hedrick said.

Several of the track athletes attested to the work of head coach Danny Cash and his staff as a catalyst for the success they are experiencing today.

“I feel that the relationship is really good (between athletes and coaches) because they are always there,” said Houston. “They also make it fun and free like you could actually just be yourself.”

Junior sprinter and jumper Nate Phillips also paid respect to the work of the coaching staff. “Honestly, it feels like our coaches have been here for years because of the trust that our team can put in them,” said Phillips. “Knowing they will help resolve any of our concerns immediately, we confidently rely on our coaches for support.

“Personally, the coaches have helped me through a lot of injuries. They have given my recoveries much patience and allowed my body time so I can come back stronger and hopefully permanently. Other coaches I have experienced were less concerned with my feelings, but instead for their points and their team. Guilford’s track and field coaches are passionate for us and for our sport.”

Through this season, the men’s track and field team has quickly displayed incredible individual achievements. But by working together, they look to go far and push strong into team competitions.

“All of our coaches have very different personalities and styles of training,” said Phillips. “But they all help bring together a solid and united team.”

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