In his 26 years at the helm, Ben Montoya has seen several athletes blaze around the Fountain-Fort Carson (Fountain, Colo.)
track with speed that appeared to border on superhuman.
None have been faster than Markesh Woodson
The senior is coming off state championships in the Class 5A 100- and 200-meter dash, although those performances weren't very shocking. Woodson finished second in each event as a sophomore.
"He's probably the best sprinter we've ever had," Montoya said. "He holds our school record in the 100, and he'll also break the school record in the 200, I'm sure."
Woodson posted his fastest 100 time in the state finals at Jefferson County Stadium last May, blowing away the field with a mark of 10.45 seconds. The diminutive one – he is listed at 5-foot-6 – ran the 200 in 21.19.
Is it truly possible that Woodson – his first name is pronounced "Mar-keesh" – can be faster this season?
"Me, personally, I would adore getting a better time," Woodson said. "But the idea is to help the team score points. So if I can repeat last year's performance and help us score points, I'll be OK with it."
Montoya's assessment of Woodson as FFC's fastest sprinter ever holds some weight. The Trojans are hardly a fledgling program. They've won 19 state championships and are seeking their third-straight this season.
Woodson said he is close to committing to Missouri, although Montoya indicated he might initially choose to attend a two-year school.
Just when it seemed like nothing could slow down Woodson, a nagging hamstring injury has curtailed his opening weeks of training. Woodson, though, pronounced himself fit to compete at the SaberCat Invitational this weekend at Sports Authority Stadium in Parker. If he competes, it will mark his initial meet of the season.
Even if he is not at 100 percent, don't count on Woodson being happy to ease back into things with a second- or third-place finish.
"He just hates to lose – to anybody," Montoya said. "That's just him. He's very competitive."
That's why, after finishing second in the 100 and 200 as a sophomore, he realized he could be doing a bit more. He vowed to make changes to ensure he was atop the podium the next season.
"I started taking practice a little more seriously," he said. "In the past, I would never run when I was tired, so I started to do that."
Not only did Woodson win the individual events at state last season, he also assisted his team to wins in the 400 and 800 relays. He had a hand in 40 of the Trojans' 68 team points. He said the 100 and 200 relays would naturally fit him best this season, but he doesn't mind modifying again if it means helping Fountain-Fort Carson to another championship.
"If my team can win the 4-by-100 or 4-by-200 without me, I'd have no problem running the 4-by-400," Woodson said.
Fountain-Fort Carson's other sports took notice throughout his high school career. The football team made overtures for him to join. He declined. He didn't mind the running part, but with his smaller stature, his injury risk was elevated and he didn't want to partake in activities that might have interrupted his track career.
He left behind football in middle school. Now, he does the same to anyone lined up against him.