Kenny Waring was a fountain of youthful talent as he settled into the starting blocks for the 100-meter dash at last May’s track state championships at Spring Valley High School.
Waring, a freshman member of the Wando track team last year, was surrounded by experienced and talented runners as the sprint neared. He was the No. 7 seed in the eight-man race that included five seniors, a junior and sophomore.
He survived the start and built up speed as he approached the 50-meter mark. Then Waring turned on the jets and afterburners and pulled away from the field in the final 20 meters to win the race in 10.70 seconds.
In the long jump, Waring had a jump of 23-9 and led most of the day. But senior Phillipe Williams of Dutch Fork claimed the gold when he cleared 23-10½ on his final jump of the day.
Yes, it was a memorable day. But what most people fail to remember is Waring’s leap that day at the state meet was the second best in the nation among freshmen.
When Waring began his sophomore season, the expectations were as big as the bulls-eye on his back.
“It was a lot of pressure,” said Waring, who took his first step toward a return to the state meet on Wednesday by winning the 100 in 10.91 and finishing second in the long jump with a leap of 20-8 at the Region 7-AAAA meet at West Ashley High School. “I tell everyone it’s really hard since I won the state. I have a lot to worry about. I have school work, too, and then there’s football. Sometimes I’m too busy to worry.”
Wando track coach Kevin Shiver said Waring uderstands it’s what happens at the final meet of the year that matters most.
“People think you just pick up where you left off the year before,” Shiver said. “But it’s a matter of starting out fresh with goals, dates and times. He’s a super person. He’s mature. I talk to him and it’s like talking to an adult.”
Waring has some eye-opening goals by the time he graduates. He wants to run the 100 in under 10.4 seconds, which would be a state record. He also wants to own the state long jump record. Clayton Holmes of Wilson holds that record, jumping 24-9¾ in 1988.
He will compete in the state qualifier on May 4, and will conclude his season a week later at the state meet.
That means a lot of work, but Waring is ready to put the effort in.
He makes A’s and B’s in the classroom, and stays connected to the football team despite running track in the spring. He recently was named the Ultimate Warrior for his workout effort and results in the weight room. The award is usually given to a rising senior football player.
Waring earned a starting position as running back midway through his sophomore season and finished with 726 yards and five touchdowns rushing. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry.
“I love football over track,” Waring said. “I do track to keep my speed up and keep in shape. I’ll be honest. I don’t care what place I come in. I just worry about my time.”
And if Waring continues to develop, time and state records could be on his side by the time he graduates.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil