US news
2003 indoor

5th Nike Indoor Championships

March 15-16, 2003 at Prince George's Sportsplex, Landover MD


Press Release
Wallace Spearmon: son of Pan Am bronze medalist has year's fastest prep 200 time

by Pete Cava

LANDOVER, Md., January 31, 2003 --- Results from the National Invitational
high school meet at the University of Arkansas on January 25 had track
aficionados puzzled.

The winner of the 200 meters was Wallace Spearmon, whose time of 21.87 is the
year's fastest indoor prep performance.

But wasn't Wallace Spearmon the 200 meter gold medalist at the 1987 Pan
American Games?

"We always get that, everywhere we go," Nina Spearmon Mulinga says with a
chuckle. Nina says people in Fayetteville, Ark., constantly confuse her
former husband, Wallace Spearmon Sr., with their son, Wallace Jr.

Wallace Sr. starred in track for the University of Arkansas from 1982 through
1985. Wallace Jr. is a senior at Fayetteville High School.

Wallace Jr. is one of the top 200 meter entries for this year's Nike Indoor
Championships, which takes place March 15-16 at the Prince George's County
Sports Complex in Landover. Held under the auspices of the National
Scholastic Sports Foundation, the Nike Indoor Championships offer top-caliber
competition for the nation's best high school track and field athletes.

"My son won the 100 and 200 meter events at last year's state meet," says
Nina. "He was invited to a sports banquet where they honor state champions."
But the man who called to invite Wallace Jr. thought he was calling about an
invitation to Wallace Sr. and offered Nina ten tickets.

"We couldn't figure out why he was offering us so many," says Nina. "State
champions usually get just two tickets. Then it came out the man thought he
was inviting Wallace Sr. as a hall of fame inductee."

One of the brightest stars on the powerful Razorback teams of the early
1980s, Wallace Sr. developed into one of the world's top 200 meter runners.
He finished sixth in the 200 meters at the 1986 U.S. championships. A year
later at the national meet, the elder Spearmon finished second to Carl Lewis
to earn a berth on the U.S. national team.

That July, Spearmon claimed a pair of gold medals at the World University
Games in Zagreb, winning the 200 and anchoring the victorious U.S. 4x100
meter relay team. A month later he finished third in the 200 at the Pan Am
Games in Indianapolis, and that September in Rome he reached the semifinals
at the World Championships.

Spearmon, now 40, lives in Newark, N.J., and works as a claims representative
for Prudential Insurance. One of his teammates at Arkansas was Mike Conley,
who went on to win a gold medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympics.
Conley, currently executive director of elite athlete programs for USA Track &
Field in Indianapolis, is well acquainted with the Spearmon family.

"Wallace, Nina and I are all from Chicago," says Conley. "Nina's cousin was
my high school sweetheart up to senior year. I took Wallace's sister to my
high school prom. Another one of Nina's cousins was my best friend in high
school and my roommate in college."

Wallace Jr., says Conley, "is a really good kid. Good head on his shoulders.
I coached AAU basketball teams in Fayetteville, and even though I didn't
coach his age group, little Wallace practiced with us all the time."

A three-sport star, Wallace Jr.plays forward on Fayetteville's basketball
team and was a wide receiver on the football squad. "It was just a natural
thing," says his mother. "On Wallace Sr.'s side of the family, they were all
extremely good track athletes. My mom was a basketball player and a baseball
player, and my father played baseball and basketball. We never pushed
Wallace Jr. to do anything athletically. He always enjoyed sports from an
early age."

Wallace Jr., who stands 6-2 and weight 174 pounds, is being recruited for
football and track and says he hopes to play both sports in college. John
McDonnell, who coached Wallace Sr., hopes to land him for Arkansas. Oregon's
been in touch, along with Kansas. The Kansas coach, Stanley Redwine, was a
teammate of Wallace Sr. at Arkansas.

"My dad likes Stanley a lot," says Wallace Jr. "But he says it's up to me
where I go to college. If possible, I'd like to do both track and football."


The younger Spearmon says he's been concentrating on track this winter. "In
basketball, I'm coming off the bench to help out on defense," he says. "But
that's about it. My favorite sport? I'd have to say track. I've been
around it my whole life."

Two of Wallace Jr.'s biggest fans are his stepfather, Charles Mulinga, and
his three-year-old half-brother, Christopher. Christopher is very serious
about his sibling's athletic exploits. "He always knows what season it is,"
says Nina, "and when it comes to sports, he can tell you more about Wallace
Jr. than I can. Christopher calls him ‘Bubby.' He says, ‘Bubby plays
football! Bubby plays basketball! Bubby plays track!'"

Charles is a distance runner who competed for his native Zambia at the 1996
Olympics. "He comes to all my meets," says Wallace Jr. "He tries to help me
out in track, but it's like a totally different world between me and him. As
for training with him? Well, maybe if I rode my bike . . . But I don't know
about 5K and 12K races. I leave that to him."

Wallace Jr.'s future, however, may lie beyond 200 meters. "When I left
Fayetteville he was in eighth or ninth grade," says Mike Conley. "He was
just trying to get his coordination together with those long limbs."

Wallace Sr, says Conley, "didn't have very long legs. He had kind of a long
back and a pretty stride. Little Wallace has a super-long stride. He'll
eventually move to the 400. He's built for it. The perfect, perfect build."

For now, at least, the 200 is Wallace Jr.'s favorite event. "By far," he
says. "The 100 is kind of short. It doesn't give me enough time to build up
my speed. I'm learning to like the 400, but I haven't really trained for it.
Maybe some day I'll be a 400 meter runner. I guess someone knows something
I don't."

 

Nike Indoor Championships

 


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