Juwan Crowder is following his family sprinting tradition
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Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014

Juwan Crowder is following his family sprinting tradition

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- COURTESY OF DENISE CROWDER
Forest Hills junior track athlete Juwan Crowder was a part of last year’s 4x200-meter state championship relay team.
  • Six track and field athletes to watch

    Boys

    • Juwan Crowder, Forest Hills, Jr. – 5-foot-11, 165 pounds. After finishing third in the state in the 100- and 200-meter dash last spring, Crowder believes he can contend for state titles in both events.

    • Justin Titgen, Marvin Ridge, Jr. – 5-foot-11, 170 pounds. Mavericks standout sprinter finished fifth in the state in the 100-meter and 10th in the state in 200-meter as sophomore.

    • Elijah Inuwa, Central Academy, Jr. – 5-foot-10, 160 pounds. Fresh off a 1A/2A state title at the 1,000-meter indoor state meet, Inuwa is back to defend his 800-meter (1A) state crown this spring.

    Girls

    • Reneazia Collins, Monroe, Sr. – 5-foot-7. North Carolina A&T signee and seven-time individual state champion won the 55-meter and 500-meter dash indoor state titles (1A/2A) last month.

    • Nikolete Hurrinus, Cuthbertson, Sr. – 5-foot-4. Wake Forest signee finished top 10 in the state in four different events last spring: the 100-, 200-, 400-meters and the long jump.

    • Lexi King, Marvin Ridge, Fr. – 5-foot-4. Maverick freshman standout has proven she can hang with anyone in the state, finishing fifth at the state cross-country meet and posting three top-threes at the state indoor meet.

It was no real surprise to Forest Hills track coach Harold Crowder when his son, Juwan, decided to get serious about running track as a freshman at the school about three years ago.

Juwan was following in family’s footsteps. Harold and Juwan’s mother, Denise, as well as his older sisters, Kendra Crowder and Dakeiga Leak, all had strong track careers as sprinters and jumpers before him at Forest Hills.

“I remember Juwan setting up stuff around the house when he was just a little boy, running around and racing,” said Harold Crowder, the Yellow Jackets head track coach for the past four years. “He would also come out with Forest Hills team (when he was younger), set up the blocks and mess around. He’s always liked to run.”

While Juwan Crowder, now 17, is the youngest, the family may have saved the best for last. The Forest Hills junior has established himself as one of the top sprinters in the state and beyond.

The young Crowder had a breakout season last spring as a sophomore. He was a part of the Yellow Jackets state championship 4x200-relay squad (with Camry Barbour, Roshad Gibson and Jonathan Wingo) and finished third in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the state meet.

Crowder, who was also the 2A Midwest Regional runner-up for the 100- and 200-meter last season, won the Rocky River Conference titles in the 200-meter dash and 300-meter hurdles as well.

In addition, Crowder had a strong summer with his Charlotte Flights club team, finishing seventh in the same two events at USA Track and Field Region 16 Junior Olympic Championships (at North Carolina A&T). He also won a championship in the 200-meter dash at Powerade State Games, while finishing third in the 100-meter dash at the same meet.

This winter, he continued to excel at the 1A/2A indoor state championships, finishing fourth in the 55-meter dash and 11th in the 300-meter dash.

On Jan. 24, Crowder ran the third fastest 55-meter dash in the country (6.31 seconds) at the David Oliver Classic at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem.

But Crowder believes he can do even better.

“I want that (individual) state championship really bad,” Crowder said. “I believe I have a chance to do that in several events, but my main goal is to win the 100- and 200-meter (dashes) and break the state record. But I have to take it one step at a time. You are only as good as your last race.”

Crowder has confidence in himself, but he doesn’t say much before, during or after a race.

“I just go out and run my race and ignore all the other stuff,” Crowder said. “I just focus on what I have to do. Once I start, my mind goes blank, and I just do what I do best.”

It wasn’t so long ago that Crowder didn’t really know what he was doing on the track.

Harold and Denise Crowder had to show him videotape of exactly how bad his form was as a freshman.

“A lot of kids are fast, but the majority of them don’t know how to run,” Harold Crowder said. “There’s so much that goes into running that people don’t see. Juwan has learned what it takes to be a great sprinter and win races.”

Crowder listened to his parents and applied it on the track.

In the latter part of his freshman year he saw results, earning a spot on the 4x100-relay squad that won the 2A state title (with Jamael Lotharp, Ra’keem Little and C.J. Kiser).

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound junior is focused on his future, where says he hopes to earn a college scholarship. Right now, at least a dozen schools across the country have contacted by email or letters.

“I’ve been around track my whole life, so to have an opportunity to run in college is a dream come true,” Crowder said. “For me, it’s kind of shocking. I never thought I make it this far.”

Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at jedwardsjr23@gmail.com.

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