Some people were just born fast. Chris Ward, a junior at Orlando Evans, is one of those people. "People always told me I was fast when I was growing up. I could beat anybody in a foot race and that's probably where I got my competitive drive from."
Ward got into track at a young age, mostly because of the push he got from his father. "My dad got me into track at around age 8. He competes for the USATF Masters division. His best times are like 48 for the 400 and 22 something for the 200."
Later, Ward re-connected with a coach he had when he was younger, Coach Ellis, and joined the Florida Elite Track Club. Coach Ellis had always wanted Chris to run for him, but Chris had other ideas. "I was really into basketball and other sports so I quit track for a little while after I had first gotten into it."
As a freshman, Ward enrolled at Gateway High where he did not see very much track action due to some trouble off the track. "I had some academic issues that prevented me from competing for them my sophomore year." However, as soon as summer track began Ward really began to show his stuff and turn it up. He ran 49.13 for 400 his freshman year, but Ward never expected to chop so much time during the next season. How much time did he drop you ask?
2.16 seconds. It doesn't seem like a lot but dropping from a 49 to a 46 is incredible. Ward ran 46.97 later during the summer at the USATF Youth Outdoor Championships where he won his age division. He accredits his tremendous drop in the 200/400 through increased speed-endurance, strength gains through the weight room, and a more developed turnover.
"I would always go out way too fast, and I didn't have enough to finish at the end of a 400. Now, when I run a 200 it's easy because of the strength I've gained through my 400m training. After finishing a 200, I'm like, it's over already?"
A typical workout for Ward will include a ladder of 120,150,180,300 and then back down again with short recovery. However, there's one workout that always gets Chris pumped and ready to roll.
"We have one workout where we'll do maybe 4-5 200's. The first couple will be at 400 race pace or a little slower so I'll hit like 24's and 25's. But for the last 2, you got to give it all you got. I usually hit those ones in 22 mid to 22 high."
Now that he is able to compete for his high school, Orlando Evans, Ward's ready to contribute and help lead them to back to back state titles with his hurdling star cousin Marcus Postell. He transferred to Evans at the end of last track season for a variety of reasons.
"Well, at Gateway they were really into me doing the football thing and didn't care about track very much. Also, they weren't very personal with you like with grades and stuff. At Evans the coaches really care about you and they always get kids scholarships and into college. That's what it's all about. So I guess I transferred for academic and athletic reasons"
Speaking of college, Ward has already narrowed down the list of schools he'd like to compete for to around 4-5 as he would like to sign in the early signing period next fall. The schools at the top of the list right now are Texas A & M, LSU, Florida State, Louisville, and Tennessee. Ward says A & M has been the most active in recruiting as they always send him stuff in the mail about how their team is doing. However, Chris will not eliminate any schools until later this summer.
"I have these schools I'm looking at, but I haven't talked to any of the coaches yet on the phone so I don't know what their all about yet. I guess we'll just have to wait and see."
Coming into the 2006 campaign, Ward has one main goal in mind. "I just want to stay consistent. I want to run 46.9's, 47.5's, and be able to come back the next day and run 21 low. In terms of time I wanna get sub 21 like 20.9 or something."
Ward and some of his teammates from Evans will venture to Nike Indoor Nationals in March in order to face the best in the nation. Ward will likely double in the 200/400 and maybe even triple in the 4x400m relay if the rest of the team is ready. With all these expectations laid in front of him, Ward has a heavy load to carry. However, with the support he has from family and friends he will be fine. So go on and try to catch him…if you can.