Running is in Wil Wooten’s blood.His father, Dan, was a hurdler at Sun Valley in the mid-1980s before going on to to coach track at Forest Hills, Sun Valley. He is now an assistant coach at Metrolina Christian Academy.His mom, Mariel, was a hurdler and sprinter at Albemarle High on the back-to-back 1A/2A N.C. state champion teams in 1986 and 1987, and she still competes in marathons on a regular basis.Wil Wooten says he was “a pretty average distance runner” when he started running in sixth grade at Metrolina Christian. Wooten left Metrolina and went to South Pointe Christian in Pageland, S.C., for his first two years of high school. He entered his freshman year standing at about 5-foot-3 and 100 pounds. He had a growth spurt in the summer before his junior year, when he returned to Metrolina Christian.“I grew about 5 inches and (gained) 20 pounds between that summer and into the next school year,” said Wil Wooten, who added that he became a regular in the weight room. “Getting bigger and stronger really opened up some options for me.”Encouraged by his father, Wooten started training for hurdles and jumps. He began competing in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, as well as the long and triple jump, his junior season.Wooten started to see his work pay off at the end of last year, when he won the Metrolina Athletic Conference title in the 110-meter hurdles (17.98 seconds), while also running a season-best 17.73 seconds in the same event at the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A state championship preliminaries.“Wil has always been a very quick learner, and sometimes he sees things before you teach him,” said Dan Wooten, who coaches hurdles and jumps at Metrolina Christian. “Wil also has a very competitive spirit. I could see as he got bigger, stronger and faster and more confident, it was going to start to show on the track.” Wil Wooten, 17, now stands at 5-foot-11 and 150 pounds, and had a strong senior season. Wooten won MAC titles in three different events on May 8 at Winthrop University in Rock Hill: the 110-meter hurdles, the 300-meter hurdles and the long jump. Wooten, who also finished third in the triple jump, helped lead his team to a MAC title as well.Wooten set the school record in 110-meter hurdles (16.16 at the time), 300-meter hurdles (41.85) and the triple jump (39 feet, 3 inches) at the conference meet.“It’s was really cool to actually win something and be the best in the conference in three different events,” Wooten said. “I knew this was one of my last meets ever (in high school), and I really wanted to give everything I had.”Metrolina Christian head coach Brett Honeycutt said Wooten was also very goal-oriented in his final season, from personal marks to school records and team accomplishments.Wooten chose to enter only the 110-meter hurdles at the NCISAA 3A state championships May 16-17 at Raleigh Ravenscroft so he could help his team more in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400-meter relays.“We had already talked about him giving up a couple individual events to run relays,” said Honeycutt. “But before we even talked to him, he wanted to run in the relays. He wanted to do what was best for the team. After all the records and conference championships, I think what he did for (the) team says even more about the type of person he is.”Wooten was a part of three more school record times at the state meet.The first came when he ran 15.93 seconds (re-setting his own school mark) in the 110-meter hurdles to take fifth at the state meet. Then he helped the 4x200-meter relay team (Wooten, Caleb Sustar, Landon Whitley and Marc Suits) set another school record with a time of 1:35.97 to finish sixth at states. The 4x400 relay squad (Wooten, Kyle Kiser, Suits and Whitley) ran a 3:37.59 to finish seventh and set another school mark. Including the sprint medley school record, an event that isn’t run at the state meet, Wooten was part of setting six school records this year.While it wasn’t an official record, Wooten also beat his dad’s hand-timed mark, which usually run lower than electronic times, with his state meet run. “It’s funny because, he was getting really close to beating me all year,” Dan Wooten said. “He finally beat it in his last race in high school. I don’t think it meant as much to him as it did to me. I was really excited for him.”“To be a part of (six) school records was a goal all year, but I didn’t even know I was close to beating my dad until the night before states,” said Wil Wooten. “After I was finished, he told me, ‘You beat your old man.’ I was really proud, but if didn’t beat him, I wouldn’t have been upset.”As the second oldest of six brothers who all also run and go to or graduated from Metrolina Christian – Jake, 19; Ben, 15; John, 14; Jed, 12; Grey, 10 – Wil Wooten hopes to keep his records for as long as possible.“I wouldn’t mind seeing one of my younger brothers beat me,” Wooten said, laughing. “But I’m not going to say I wouldn’t mind keeping the records for awhile, either.”Wooten will go onto to N.C. State University next year, where the 4.5 GPA student plans to major in engineering. He won’t run formally for the Wolfpack, but he says running will always be a part of his life.“I definitely want to keep running, maybe also do some half-marathons or marathons on the side,” Wooten said. “Barring injury, I think I will keep running to stay in shape and for fun for as long as I can.”
Tuesday, May. 27, 2014
Metrolina Christian’s Wil Wooten runs to record-breaking season
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at email@example.com.
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