Salute to Seniors: Monte Parker

Before the class of 2019 makes their final farewells to high school cross country and track and field, we want to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time! FLRunners invites all seniors to tell their stories from the past four years.

Today we salute American Heritage senior, Monte Parker. 

What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?
To me my most memorable moment wasn't what you would think, for me it was the biggest loss at my first big meet besides the post season meets, Louie bing.

This meet was stacked in the 400 this year with of course Tyrese cooper and Jamal Walton in the final it sported Peter Anderson and Calvin Goodson the Hallandale duo that were in 2A with me. Tiondre Toomer another elite runner almost running 46 that season. And me being the youngest in that final all the way in lane 7. It was my first big final because I never been in a race where every lane had the potential to run a sub 48. I got dead last in that race and I admit I was terrified .

Even though I did win states the previous year I had never ran against these guys before on the high school level. The loss helped me to realize that even though I had won states last year I had so much work to do and it made me work harder than I had before that point finishing my sophomore year in 47.6 and 21.3.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

My biggest competition in my four years was Peter Anderson of Hallandale I saw him at almost every meet every relay every post season meet literally we were in the same district same regional and of course the same state. It was more like two years because he was a year older and injured my freshman year.

What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment was winning a state championship my freshman year in the 400 despite Stranahan high school having no track to practice on.

Who would you consider your biggest role model over your four years competing?

I would consider my mom my biggest role model because she knew exactly what I could I do and my potential through the years and she reminded me to never let one win get to my head because it's never over till it's over and the guy you beat last week can drop a fast time and beat you the next week so take it one race at a time.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?

I wouldn't change a thing I just wish I was healthy for either my junior year or senior year because I would have ran a 46 in high school and that's a fact.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?
My injury my junior year was the most devastating obstacle because I was a week away from Louie bing running 250s 300s outrunning everyone with no effort in practice and we weren't even wearing spikes yet.  
In February of 2018 on the curve of a 250 I pulled my hamstring, and I had never had hamstring problems before. I didn't end up running the open 400 until the Miami hurricane invite a month later.

I ran 47.90 to open the season for that meet and I split a 46 in the 4x4 for the first time ever. We ran US#1 3:14 at the time. I also split a 46 at Florida relays that year with a school record of 3:13 at that meet. Going into states I was running good at districts I ran another 47.9, ran bad at regionals with a 48.6 second in both coming off of injury of course.

When I got to states that year I was hunting for that win. I came out of prelims and won my heat and qualified third for finals. In finals I got out faster than I ever did before and I broke the stagger within the first 80 meters and I wasn't even tired yet sitting behind lane 5 (top qualifier) because I was in lane three I said I was going to kick at the 250-200 mark and I did I picked it up again and I could feel how fast I was moving.

I could feel the lurking pain in my hamstring from earlier in the season creeping up on me, but I didn't just pull it I was close to tearing it right at the 150 mark. Even though I felt it pop like that I still wanted the win so bad I said I would deal with it later after the race was done and I won. Because at that point in the race I was tied with first At the 150. 

My hamstring was not going and each stride I took seemed like it was getting tighter and tighter until I couldn't even lift it anymore. So I ended up falling back all the way from first to 7th. Still running a 48.2 almost a 47 despite what happened in the race and I wasn't even tired just frustrated and obviously in real pain. I still had a 200 and 4x400 to run that day which I couldn't complete in because of the pain from my hamstring. We came second for the team state title and I blame myself and my injury because I was a key part to that 4x4 and we probably would have won it if I never got injured and in the 200 I would have got at least 4 points in that plus Anthony Schwartz won it for us. So that's like 21 points we lost because I got hurt.

So I wanna say I overcame this injury my senior year but not entirely. It didn't start off good because before the season started I couldn't do pre season running because of this intense  Tendonitis my trainers and doctors said not to run through. So we start around October but I couldn't start till 
January 2019. So I started running really late and I didn't do any sprint work like I usually do because of what I missed. Even besides that I still ran good at Louie Bing in the sprint medley splitting a 48 alright considering I was coming of constant injuries. Then later in the season I began doing sprint workouts because repeat 1000s are not really my best races, mainly because I would be running the 4x100, 200, and 4x400 at Sam Burley.

 So while practicing baton exchanges in March, I strain my hamstring yet again. I didn't run an open 400 until districts I managed to avoid injury for the rest of the year. 

In April and May I battled back from injury to win districts in 48.0, win regional in 48.1 ,and come second at state in 47.9. So in all my biggest obstacle is myself and staying healthy. I have all the confidence in the world. You can ask anybody that i train with or who watched me train I'm always pushing it to the next level to get there. 

What will you miss the most?

 I will miss being able to dominate and out run people with a 47-49 now I gotta be running 43-45 to beat these grown men in college but I'm ready for the challenge I'm sure of it. 

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

 I would advise the younger athletes stay hungry but healthy I'm living proof of how injury can mess you up but it's all mental you have to believe you can do the impossible.

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

Coach Barnes has greatly improved my speed despite my injuries. My first year after transferring from Stranahan to Heritage I dropped in both the 200 and the 400. I went from 22.2 to 21.3 and 48.8 to 47.6 all in one year of training with him. Without injury I would have been running 20 in the 200 and 46 for sure In the 400 almost 45. He was just as hurt as me when I started getting hurt. He helped me get back to where I am now and without him i don't know if I would have the confidence I have right now or be going to USF to run track. 

What are your post-high school or college plans?

 College I plan on attending is University of South Florida. I want to run 45 my first year and be one of the rare freshman to make it to finals in the 400 at Nationals. 

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

  I want to say thank you to My mom and dad for keeping my head straight and letting me know the mental is just as important as the physical every single day. Thank Coach Barnes  for pushing me in though tough practices. And thank everyone who believed I could do more than even I thought I could at times. I thank God that I could finish the season healthy and head to college healthy and head strong.

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