WINTERSVILLE - The Ohio State Track and Field Championships begin Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium and one local athlete will be there as kind of a surprise.
Indian Creek graduate Alex Young has the seventh-fastest time in the 400 at 49.91.
Not bad, considering he has run it four times in competition, the latest being at the Division II east regional championships Saturday at The Plains High School.
"He's very easy to coach," said Redskins track coach Jack Fluharty. "Before the race he comes over and asks me what I want him to do, I tell him and he goes out and does it.
"The 400, as far as I'm concerned, is by far the hardest event in track and field. To have someone come out and, other than running 90 feet at a time in baseball, be able to break the 50 barrier is picking your parents well.
"His stride is phenomenal. He has great drive - he doesn't like to lose. It's amazing to see that kind of time with two weeks of running. He's not your typical person."
Although Fluharty has already fielded calls from seven college coaches, Young is headed to Sinclair Community College to play baseball.
"I keep telling them he's a baseball player," Fluharty said with a laugh.
Young put in his time at track practice as baseball season was winding down.
The Redskins lost their sectional baseball game to Carrollton on May 15 and the district meet at Meadowbrook High School started on May 23.
Fluharty entered Young in the 400 with a 51.30 time.
"Four weeks before baseball season was over he talked to me about coming out to run the 400," said Fluharty. "He last ran track in the eighth grade and he was running 51s then. He got his practices in and I put him down for that time based on his intervals at practice.
"When he went out and ran 50.21 in the district prelims, I felt really good about what time I had given him."
He then ran 50.98 to win the district title, followed that with a 49.83 in the regional prelims and 49.91 to win the regionals.
"He hasn't been pushed in a race yet," said Fluharty. "That will change this week. I'm curious to see how he does. This will be his first challenge."
Young is in lane 5. Just inside is Vayante Copeland of Dayton Thurgood Marshall and his 48.87. Right outside is Chad Winner of Versailles and his 49.78. In lane 2 is Maliik Briggs of Columbus Eastmoor Academy and his 49.80.
"I'm curious to see this week how I run with competition next to me - see if I can prevail," he said. "Here's some baseball kid running around the track with fast times. This has been pretty cool. I like it.
"Most people don't think I don't like losing, but I absolutely hate it. I want to succeed and try my best to do that.
"I haven't expected this many people to be so kind. The community has been great. They're all behind me. When they see me in public they come up to me and wish me luck. It's amazing to see what they're doing."
The top two from each of the two heats and the next fastest five times will qualify for Saturday's final.
"He'll be right in the mix," said Fluharty. "It's going to be great to watch him run on that stage.
"To run the 400 or the 800 is a strategic race, although some people may not think so. It takes time to learn how to run the 400. Even Michael Johnson has said that you cannot run the 400 at full speed without some kind of loss of momentum.
"All this has to do with the fact that he is just that talented."
Although he is missing some Legion baseball with Post 33 because of this track adventure, he understands this is an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"It hurts pretty badly not playing right now," Young admitted. "I had to sit out two games today because I missed two games. I just sat and watched. But decisions come with responsibility and I understand that.
"It was a tough decision. My parents were there to help me with the decision. I thought it was a good decision.
"I had no idea I would go this far. It's been four years since I ran. I'm in condition, but not this type of condition.
"I thought maybe I would win the 400 in districts and have a good time with Frank (Kamarec). I sure didn't think I would be winning a regional championship, that's for sure. But, I guess I'm there."
Young said Kamarec is the culprit who talked him into this.
"He's the one who drug me into this, he can take all the blame," Young said with a laugh.
For Indian Creek football coach Andrew Connor, this kind of success for Young is not a surprise.
"He's blessed with a tremendous amount of athleticism," said Connor. "Whatever he puts his mind to he can do. Transitioning from baseball to track so quickly and successfully is pretty amazing. You think to yourself that if baseball wasn't his first love, he'd be very successful running track. He has a perfect frame.
"The one big thing that he has is that he's very competitive. In all honesty, I would love to have him back at quarterback.
"When I heard he was going to do it, I was all for it. In the 400, you are built to run it or not run it. He's built to run it. I had an inkling he would be good at this. But, I never thought he would be at the state meet with a legitimate chance to be a state champ.
"He has a lot of pluses. He's doing a sport right now with very little pressure on him."
Indian Creek basketball coach Joe Dunlevy also is not surprised.
"No, I'm not and for three reasons - one, he's a great kid and was a basketball maniac and worked very hard; two, he ran track in junior high and was outstanding in junior high; three, having coached him in football and being able to watch him run the bases in baseball, you can see the kind of talent he has," said Dunlevy.
"Remember the interception he had against Harrison (Central)? No one could catch him. In baseball, he hits one in the gap, he's flying around the bases and winds up on third. In basketball he would do something and the other coach and I would just look at each other and go 'wow.'
"He's also a workaholic. I would have to be at school by 7 o'clock for morning duty and many, many times he, Frank and Matt Furda were already in the gym working out.
"He's a pretty darn good athlete."
Indian Creek baseball coach Mike Cottis has seen this for four years and, like everyone else, isn't surprised at Young's success.
"It's unbelievable, isn't it?" he asked. "I was not shocked he was going to do it. Now, I'm not familiar with how track and field works, but I assume people put in a lot of time to do what he is doing. It just shows what kind of an athlete he is.
"I've always said when talking to college baseball coaches that he floats when he runs. He gets from home to third in no time. Quite honestly, that's how he got so many looks for baseball. His speed and potential to become a great hitter - that's quite a package there.
"I'm excited for him. Plus, he's a great kid, too."
Young will stay in Columbus for a day to practice with team Ohio, the top 20 juniors and seniors in the state. They will leave right after practice and take a 17 hour bus trip to Oklahoma to play in the Heartland Classic.
"I'm really excited to go down there," said Young. "It seems like it will be a lot of fun. I'll be able to meet a bunch of kids who may be drafted and who will be playing D1 ball. Staying with a host family. It should be an exciting time. I'm really looking forward to playing against really good players and going against really good pitchers every day."
This comes on the heels of being named first-team all-Ohio in Division II baseball.
"That was really good news," he said.
"Alex's plate is pretty full," said Cottis. "When he comes back from Oklahoma he's going to play in the Mizuno game. Just being considered to play in Oklahoma is an honor. But, getting picked to play is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's something he has to take advantage of and he is.