Hawkins Becomes The Fastest High Schooler In The State
Park’s Hawkins Won Gold in the 100 and 200
CHARLESTON — In 2021, Wheeling Park’s Jerrae Hawkins went home from the State Track Meet with a pair of silver medals; one in the 100 and the other in the 200. The only athlete faster than Hawkins at last year’s meet was then-senior teammate Torrence Walker, who won gold in the 100, 200 and 400.
With Walker now running at Virginia Tech, it was Hawkins’s turn to shine at this year’s state meet, and shine he did, cementing himself as the fastest boy in the state by winning first place in both the 100 and 200 sprints.
“We’re so blessed to have had a runner of the quality of Torrence Walker to have come through the program and then to follow it up with Jerrae and the quality that he is,” said Park boys’ coach Barry Rideout. “It’s truly a blessing for us as a team, the school and the community as a whole.”
Hawkins left no doubt during the WVSSAC Class AAA State Track Meet Friday, winning the 100 with a time of 10.54 and the 200 in 21.48. His stiffest competition came from Jefferson’s Keyshawn Robinson, who finished second in both events, but was not particularly close to Hawkins in either one. Robinson ran a 10.81 in the 100 and 21.62 in the 200.
“I knew there was going to be some pressure on me but I know what I can do,” a confident Hawkins said after winning the 200. “It makes me feel good just that I performed the way I was supposed to.”
Hawkins came into Friday the heavy favorite to win the 100, but his performance in the 200 came as a surprise to many; not Rideout, however.
“Going into the season, based upon what happened last year, it was pretty clear to me that he was the fastest boy in the state,” Rideout said. “I know that there are some great runners, but I think Jerrae proved me right (Friday).”
In winning the 200, Hawkins improved his time from 22.04 in the preliminaries to the winning time of 21.48, passing Robinson, who had the best time in the prelims, in the process.
“For athletes at that level, it comes down to desire and he really, really wanted it,” Rideout said. Those last 50 meters were so exciting and you saw how badly he wanted it and he just took it.”
Rideout said what gives Hawkins an edge in the sprints is how quickly he can accelerate up to his fastest speed.
“In the first 30 meters of the races, it really is over for him,” Rideout said. “In those first 30 meters, with the exception of Keyshawn Robinson, Jerrae’s got 5, 6, 7 meters on the rest of the field and he’s just gone. Getting that kind of start is hard to beat because you’re working so hard just to catch the guy, let alone pass him.”
Accelerating that quickly in the 100 is great as the race lasts just over 10 seconds. In the 200, however, maintaining that kind of top-end speed for twice as long is incredibly difficult.
“You’ve got to get up to speed and you have to maintain it for such a longer distance,” Rideout explained. “You’re maintaining it for 150 meters instead of 70 meters.”
“In the 200, I feel like I just have to stay calm and not rush,” Hawkins continued. “It’s still running, but it’s also keeping your form.
“I like to watch video of my (personal records) and try to study them.”
Winning both spring titles as a sophomore raises the bar extremely high for the rest of Hawkins’s high school career.
“As a program, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got opportunities for him to showcase what his talents are,” Rideout said. “If we have those showcases where we can go and show not only West Virginia, but the whole region and the whole country just how fast he is, I think that’ll keep him hungry and coming back for more.’
Hawkins will be going home with four medals in total, as he ran the anchor leg of Park’s third-place 4×100 relay team (43.29) and sixth-place 4×200 relay team (1:31.88).
Running with Hawkins on the 4×100 team were Alex Canestraro, Christian Bryan and Keohn Stephens. Isaiah Zelaski replaced Stephens on the 4×200 team.
Led by a third-place finish by Adriana Fazzini in the discus, Wheeling Park’s girls team is not going back home empty-handed either.
Individually, Lil Hanna medaled with a sixth-place finish in the 300 hurdles (48.68) and the Patriots also medaled in the 4×100 relay (5th, 50.68), 4×200 relay (6th, 1:48.68) and 4×400 relay (5th, 4:14.63).
Audrey Lantz, Kaylee Davis, Jermaniq Edmonds and Abby Barki made up the 4×100 team. Lantz, Davis, Hanna and Barki were the 4×200 team. Finally, Barki, Hanna, Maya Taggart and Lantz ran the 4×400.