Spencer on the right track

Published 7:54 pm Thursday, May 17, 2012

Washington freshman Markel Spencer will be competing in the 100-meter dash at today’s NCHSAA 3-A state championship meet at N.C. A&T University. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

Freshmen aren’t supposed to do this. They are not supposed be able to compete on varsity track and field team, never mind dominate on it, and they are definitely not supposed to run a 10.58 in the 100-meter dash, the sport’s glamour event. However, it appears Washington freshman Markel Spencer never got that memo. How could he? Who would be fast enough to deliver it to him?
Today, the kid who can outrun an email will look to polish off his fantastic freshman season by competing in the 100-meter dash at the NCHSAA 3-A state meet at N.C A&T University and Washington track and field coach Jon Blank said the key for Spencer is to go out and have a good time.
“I hope he sees this as an opportunity as a freshman to just go out with no pressure and run. The expectations aren’t there for him as a freshman. It’s win-win,” Blank said.  “People look at him and are going to see ‘freshman’ beside his name and they are just going to be impressed that he’s there. Now, obviously he’s not satisfied with that, but if he doesn’t have a great day it’s no loss because he got there as a freshman and he is going to use that experience for the next three years.”
Not being satisfied is the key phrase for Spencer who has competed and practiced with the determination of a man who is running for his life, not a gold medal.
“When it’s meet time he goes out there and competes,” Blank said. “The thing is it doesn’t matter if it’s a 10-meter dash, 50, 100 or 200, he wants to win. He has that competitive fire. To have that speed and that competitive fire at such a young age, that’s just rare.”
Aside from his natural sprinting ability, Spencer has also impressed with his stamina.
“Usually with a freshman you will see an early peak and then they will just fall off because they don’t know how to handle the length of the season,” Blank said. “But he’s really handled everything very well and maturely and I think that’s why he is where he is.”
Where Spencer could be by the end of today is on the first-place podium, but in order to do that the kid with blazing-fast speed must get off to an ultra-quick start.
“The biggest area of  improvement is in his starts. If it was a 50-meter dash he would lose most of them because he really turns it on in the second half of the race,” Blank said. “So if we can get him out faster I feel like that can complete him as a runner and then who knows what he can run.”