L.J. Cox still views track and field as preparation for football, but the sport is beginning to grow on the Beechcroft High School junior.
Encouraged by football and boys track coach Bruce Ward to come out for track for the first time this spring, Cox quickly has become one of the team's top sprinters.
On May 1 in the Braves Invitational at Whetstone, Cox placed sixth in the 200 meters in 23.73 seconds and also ran on the 400 relay.
"I wanted to work on my speed and stay conditioned for football," Cox said. "It's cool. It's a decent sport. I never competed in it before, but coach Ward was saying that I should try it. I feel like I'm getting faster.
"It's going decent, but we can do better. Our (running) on curves can (be) better."
Cox started at free safety and also saw action at wide receiver last fall as Beechcroft went 8-2 and reached the Division II, Region 7 playoffs.
At Whetstone, he and senior Maurice Hale, sophomore Rayshawn Norah and freshman Robert Williamson finished 11th in the 400 relay (45.54).
Ward hopes the relay can place in the City League meet, which will be held Monday, May 13, and Wednesday, May 15, at Whetstone.
The Cougars were 14th (16) behind champion Eastmoor Academy (95) as 16 teams scored in the Braves Invitational.
Williamson also has proven to be a quick learner.
In the Braves Invitational, he was second in the long jump (19 feet, 1/2 inch) and ran on the ninth-place 800 sprint medley (1:42.13) with Norah, Candido Hernandez and Bryan Quijada.
Hale added a fourth-place finish in the 110 hurdles (16.62).
Ward also has been pleased with junior Charles Ellis, who competes in the 800 and on relays.
"Charles Ellis has done a tremendous job," Ward said. "He's dropped his time (in the 800) by 15 seconds; to work hard and drop like that, I'm proud of him. L.J. Cox started out running 25 (seconds in the 200) then 24 and now he's consistently in the 23s. Robbie Williamson is doing a great job in the long jump. He's only a freshman, so that's good.
"L.J. never wanted to do anything but football, but I finally got him out for track this year. His work ethic is tremendous."
'Cats boys track team prepping for City meet
Brookhaven boys track coach Steve Ayers hopes his team's times improve significantly now that the weather has gotten warmer.
"Our relays have been doing OK, but now that the weather has warmed up we have to run faster," Ayers said. "When you look at times across the state, and our goal is to get to state, we definitely have to improve time-wise. We're average. We're OK for right now. May's the month."
In the Braves Invitational, the Bearcats placed eighth (26).
The 400 relay of Blake McEwen, Paul Hughes, Ramone Broomfield and Lei'Tonn Backus was sixth (44.81) of 14 entrants behind first-place Eastmoor (43.11).
Brookhaven's top performance at Whetstone was turned in by senior Kevin Greenhow, who won the long jump (21-3 1/4).
Greenhow also added a fourth-place finish in the 200 (23.48) while McEwen was fourth in the 100 (11.41).
"Kevin Greenhow just jumped 21-3 in the long jump," Ayers said. "When you get nice weather, it helps. It's hard to jump in the cold. He's easily a 22-foot long-jumper. He qualified for the regional last year in the high jump, but we said let's focus on (either the long jump or high jump) and he said he'd rather do the long jump."
Hargrove leading Northland boys
Northland boys track coach Marcos Segovia hopes his team is healthy for the City meet.
Sophomore Darius Owens, who Segovia believes might be the team's best runner in the 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200, has been battling shin splints.
He didn't compete May 4 in the Gary Smith Invitational at Thomas Worthington and is questionable for Friday, May 10, when Northland competes in the Larkin/Crosten Invitational at Upper Arlington.
"The (1,600) is definitely his best race," Segovia said. "Doing the 1,600 and 800 can be tough, so we're looking at maybe having him run the (3,200) at City."
Sophomore Nateshawn Hargrove has been the top sprinter.
Northland was 11th (22) in the Braves Invitational as Hargrove was fifth in the 100 (11.48) and joined Jhustus Cornley, Ibrahim Mansaray and Owens on the 800 sprint relay that was fourth (1:39.21).
Another top runner has been junior Mohamed Dukuly, who was fifth in the 800 (2:11.47) and joined Cornley, Mansaray and Kevin Moore on the 1,600 relay that was fourth (3:36.37) at Whetstone.
"Every time (Hargrove) runs, he seems to lower his times," Segovia said. "Mohamed Dukuly is another kid who has been running well."
Girls teams place in middle at Whetstone
For the girls in the Braves Invitational, Northland placed fifth (56), Brookhaven was sixth (35) and Beechcroft took seventh (33.5) behind champion Eastmoor (101) as 16 teams scored.
Winning were Beechcroft's 1,600 relay of Tivia Hylton, Emonie Hanks, Jordan Glover and Amber Radcliff (4:17.97) and Northland's Jasmine Weatherspoon in the high jump (5-0).
Placing second for Brook-haven were Jatia Green in the 200 (25.82) and its 800 sprint relay of Meshia McCoy, Naza-rae Butler, Brandee Edwards and Alexus McGill (1:56.3).
Also finishing second was Northland's Mackenzie Pahren in the 1,600 (6:02.63).