Anthony Bynum has only been running for three years, but the junior has quickly become one of the standout sprinters in Mecklenburg County and the state.
Bynum hopes to lead his Hopewell track and field team to an I-Meck Conference title starting today.
Bynum, who also plays cornerback for the Titans, got interested in sprinting as he tried to improve his skills on the football field in eighth grade.
"I figured I had a little bit of speed, so I decided to run," he said. "You have to be fast to play corner."
Hopewell track and field coach Michelle Lapointe said that when Bynum first tried out for her team, he nearly didn't make it, only getting on the roster after another runner dropped out.
She's now glad that she didn't make the mistake of cutting her now-star athlete.
Lapointe has been impressed by how much Bynum's times have improved - to a point that she says his times are impressive at the national level.
This season, his fastest times are 10.64 in the 100-meters and 21.94 seconds in the 200-meters.
Bynum said he didn't realize how good he was until last year.
"After I broke the school record I thought, 'Man, I'm pretty good,'" the 17-year-old said.
That first Titan record was in the 200-meter race, in which he broke the record by 0.2 seconds with a time of 21.4.
Bynum also has a few more records - as part of the 100-, 200- and 400-meter relay teams.
In March, Bynum traveled to New York City for the National Scholastic Indoor Championship. He placed fifth overall in the 200 meters and was named as an NSIC All-American.
Although most athletes would be happy with Bynum's times and accomplishments, he's still not fully satisfied.
"The season's gone pretty well, but I still think it could've gone a little better," he said.
But the success of the Titans track and field squad doesn't merely depend on Bynum.
On the boys' side, the team's 400-, 800- and 3,200-meter relay teams have done well in addition to long distance runners such as junior Brandon Dunford.
"We're aiming to win conference," said Dunford.
With less than 20 athletes on its roster, the girls' team isn't as deep as the boys and has struggled a bit this season. But they've had some highlights, such as the performance of Jaya Emerson, who holds the school records in both shot put and discus.
Lapointe said her team has done well this season. The sixth-year Hopewell coach added that she hasn't run her full team in a meet yet. Instead, she has been experimenting with her athletes to find what events fit best for them.
"Everything isn't determined until conference, so I can lose everything single meet," said Lapointe. "When we go to Wednesday meets we don't go out there to win."
The boys are favored to take the conference title, but Lapointe doesn't want to write off Mallard Creek and Vance just yet.
"It's going to be close on the boys side," she said.
Bynum should help the Titans be well on their way for a title.
He said he stays motivated by the way his competitors approach him.
"When they get an attitude, that pushes me and gets me ready to go," he said.
But the All-Conference sprinter's favorite part of the sport is its competitive side.
Lapointe said that Bynum excels in the sport because of his desire to win and the hard work he puts into it.
"There are some kids that come out and couldn't care less, and that shows in the race - they give up at that finish line, let somebody pass them in the last two feet," she said. "Anthony doesn't like that happening."
Bynum has high expectations of himself for next year.
"I want my time to drop even more than it has," he explained. "I want my work ethic to be better than it already is."
Bynum hopes to continue sprinting in college - and maybe even playing special teams at the next level - after graduation.
Lapointe said Bynum has a great chance at achieving his goals - at least in track.
"His times are up there nationally and he's only a junior," she said. "I know there's coaches looking at his times and seeing his potential."