Hanahan track and field standout Chris Brown admits his goal is to win four individual gold medals during Saturday’s Class AA state track and field championships. But don’t worry. Brown doesn’t have a big head. He’s all about the team.
Need proof? Last spring, Brown in an effort to bring the Hawks a state title, didn’t compete in the high jump and opted for the long jump after talking to coach David Pratt about what was best for the team. Brown recorded the top jump in the state with a leap of 23 feet, 9 inches, to lead the Hawks to the state championship.
This spring, Brown, once again, has been the consummate team player. He passed on the long jump and concentrated on the high jump in a move to score more points at the state meet. The change of events has been remarkable. Brown cleared 6-10 in the high jump last weekend and seems poised to climb to the top of the victory stand.
Brown will compete in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as the high jump and triple jump. He is a prohibitive favorite to win the triple jump after soaring 51-2½ feet for a state record. He could challenge for the national record, which is 52-10½.
After that, it’s on to South Bend, Ind., this summer to begin football practice with Notre Dame. He was one of the top wide receivers in the state despite missing a majority of his senior season with a shoulder injury. He uses that speed and jumping ability he displays on the runway to separate himself from defenders.
But for now, Brown is all about track and field.
“I kind of downplay what I am trying to do and the inner pressure it causes,” Brown said. “My goal is to push my teammates and help us get another state championship. Last year, I got three gold medals. This year, I want four and to score 40 points.”
When it comes to track athletes, coach Pratt puts Brown on a pedestal. He has been a coach for 35 years and puts Brown at No. 1 on the list of best athletes he’s seen or coached.
“He reminds me a lot of Christian Taylor, an athlete from Georgia, who went to the University of Florida,” Pratt said. “He’s excellent in the jumps and also has run on relays. They are very similar.”
Taylor is the Georgia state record holder in the long jump (25-6), triple jump (52-0) and 400-meter dash (47.19). He was also the 2008 Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year for the state of Georgia and is now a world-class jumper. Brown was named the South Carolina Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year last spring.
Brown knows defending the team championship will not be easy. Bishop England and Woodland, Region 6-AA rivals, should provide stiff competition. Sixty percent of the Lower State athletes in Saturday’s state championship are from Region 6-AA.
But then there’s only one who shines the brightest. And that’s Chris Brown.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @pandcphil.