A race where mere hundredths of a second often separate winners and losers, the 100-meter dash is outdoor track’s shortest and most unforgiving event. To contend, an athlete must be explosive, efficient, and most important of all – fast. A little swagger doesn’t hurt, either.
Saturday’s State 3-A Meet at the University of Louisville will feature a talented quintet of local high school sprinters competing in the 100, all seeking the distinction of fastest boy in Kentucky.
Seeded in spots one through five, Ronnie Baker (Ballard), James Quick (Trinity), William Kannamore (Ballard), Mitchell Nelson (Male) and John Giddens (Male) make up the local contingent in a field top-heavy with Jefferson County talent.
According to Giddens the stiff local competition forces runners to raise their level. “If you’re the fastest person in a county you’re not going to push as hard but with these kids we all push each other and we know if we’re racing each other it’s going to be a good race,” Giddens said.
Giddens has been a standout running back on Male’s football team the past four seasons, but it is on the track, sans shoulder pads and helmet, where his speed is most impressive. His season-best time of 10.83 is tops among all state meet qualifiers.
The senior said he has not always been so swift and shaving time has been difficult. “Freshman year was tough. I was slow, real slow…like 11.90 or 12.00. I thought I was fast but it’s a totally different speed (in track),” Giddens said. “My sophomore year I started taking it real serious and that’s when I started running the 100 in meets.”
‘It’s So Fast!’
“In the 100 it’s so fast you never know who’s going to win and you try to be perfect the whole time,” said Giddens, who will also compete in the 200, 400 relay and 1600 relay at the state meet.
Male head coach Jason Neuss attributes Giddens’ success to a combination of natural ability and technique. “When you get down into the sub-11.00 range most of the kids are technically sound. The thing John has going for him is he is powerful and very explosive as well,” said Neuss.
After finishing sixth as a sophomore and third as a junior, Giddens is relishing the opportunity to shine in his final state meet. “It helps when there’s a big crowd. When the 100 is run at state, everything gets quiet, everybody is standing up watching. I know I’ll be racing against fast people but if I don’t worry about them…I feel like I can beat them. I want to run a 10.60,” he said.
Giddens will be running alongside teammate Mitchell Nelson, who took first in the regional meet last Saturday (11.16).
Another multi-sport star, Quick of Trinity has established himself as one of the state’s most versatile athletes in only his sophomore year. An All-State wide receiver on the football field, Quick also plays basketball and competes in the 100, 200 and 400 in track. His season-best of 10.90 in the 100 is fifth fastest in the state this year. He won the 200 at last year’s state meet as a freshman and will be the top-seed in the 200 after posting a 21.54 qualifying time at the regional meet.
Ronnie Baker of Ballard, who earned the top seed by running a 10.92 at the regional meet, expects that it will take the right mindset and a near-perfect race to win. “You definitely have to have some confidence. Even if you aren’t the best, you have to think you are. Everyone’s looking to win and I think I could pull it off, but I need to come out and run one of my best races,” said Baker.
Baker’s teammate William Kannamore, a senior, won the 100 earlier this year at the Eastern Relays (11.13) and turned in a season-best 11.00 at the City Championships.
A notable absence at the state meet will be Pleasure Ridge Park senior Dion Cummings, who ran the state’s second fastest 100 this season (10.74) but failed to qualify for the state meet when an injured hamstring forced him to pull up at the regional meet. “He’s pretty upset and disappointed right now,” said PRP coach Adam Donnelley.