Nike Indoor Championships
Mar 13-14, 2004 at PG County Sportsplex, Landover MD

NIC News

  • Nike Sprint Summit - It's All About Speed
  • 2-sport stars - Five of the nation's top gridiron prospects are entered.
  • Tony Wells - NSSF coach of the year brings his latest Colorado Flyer, Ashley Owens, to this year's NIC
  • Ted Ginn guns for hurdles title but most of all wants to be a role model.
  • Steele Magnolia - Robert Steele's North Rowan NC triple jump factory sends three of the nation's best to NIC

Nike Sprint Summit - It's All About Speed

Master Coach John Smith and World Champions
Are At Nike Sprint Summit

Speed, Speed, Speed…. you gotta have it! You need it in the sprints, the approach for the jumps, the release in the throws and that killer kick in the distance events.

“Taking Speed to the Hurdles and Long Jump” is the theme for the Second Annual Nike Sprint Summit hosted by the National Scholastic Sports Foundation and Nike. And who better to give the keynote presentation but John Smith, known internationally as the coach with the midas touch, the maestro of speed! He will be joined by two newly crowned World Champions who have learned how to apply speed to their individual events: Allen Johnson and Savanté Stringfellow.

Smith's intuitive kinship with the subject of speed is evident in the success of his HSI athletes including World Record holder Maurice Green (60m), Larry Wade, Tori Edwards, and Micky Grimes. His presentation on Friday evening will focus on race modeling for the 100 meters and will be geared for both the athlete and coach.

There will be three concurrent break-out sessions following Smith's introduction. Sprinters will have the opportunity to test some of his comments under his watchful eye on the backstretch of the track. Hurdlers will join American Record holder and World Champion hurdler, Allen Johnson and Westbury High School coach, Rose Brimmer on the home-stretch for an intense learn-by-doing application of Smith's speed theories to the hurdles. Meanwhile, jumpers will learn to apply speed to their approach with 2004 World and USA Indoor Champion, Savanté Stringfellow and NCAA long jump champion Jenny Adams.

Summit facilitator, Cedric Walker who has just returned from a stint as Assistant Coach of the USA World Championship team in Hungary explained that the NSSF Nike Summit will continue to be an integral part of the Nike Indoor Championships. “Young athletes need as much exposure as possible to opportunities where they can learn important tools to maximize performance, “ he stated. “The clinicians we've selected this year have mastered the application of speed to their disciplines. Coach Smith knows how to teach it, Allen demonstrates it over and between the hurdles and Savanté and Jenny have shown that speed on the runway approach is essential.”

Adams agrees. Her portion of the Summit will center on the last two steps of the approach and running off of the board. Stringfellow welcomes the chance to work with young jumpers. “They're our future in the sport,” he said. “One day they'll be dethroning me.” But not quite yet!

The Summit will be held on Friday evening from 7:00 until 10:00 p.m. at the Prince Georges Sports & Learning complex in Landover, Maryland. It is free to all athletes registered for the 2004 Nike Indoor Championships which kicks off early on Saturday morning. There is a nominal $10 registration fee for coaches, parents, etc. All Summit participants will receive a clinic notebook and there'll be free prizes and give-aways from Nike.

Plan on being there early for the best seats. Athletes should come dressed and prepared to participate.



By Pete Cava,

National Scholastic Sports Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS , March 8, 2004 – Remember the old Rodney Dangerfield routine about going to a prizefight where a hockey game broke out? If a football game erupts at next week's Nike Indoor Championships, it could pass for some kind of national prep bowl. Some of the nation's top gridiron prospects are among the entries.

Athletes have combined track and football careers going back to the days of Jim Thorpe. Thorpe, the decathlon winner at the 1912 Olympics, was a collegiate football star who went on to play professionally. At the 1952 Games in Helsinki , Ollie Matson won a bronze medal in the 400m and a silver in the 4x400m relay. A standout football player at the University of San Francisco, Matson went on to an All-Pro NFL career. In 1984 Michael Carter took a silver medal in the shot put at the Los Angeles Olympics. Six days later, he was playing in his first pro football pre-season game with the San Francisco 49ers. Carter, who still holds the national high school shot put record, went on to play in three Super Bowls.

This week's NIC features at least five key entries who carry on the tradition of excellence in football and track.

Leading the way is Ted Ginn of Cleveland 's Glenville High School , who was the 2003 Defensive Player of the Year on the All- USA Today Football Team. At the January 3 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Ginn returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. He turned down scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Southern California and Wisconsin to attend Ohio State. Ginn finished fourth in the 60m hurdles at last year's NIC and won the 110m hurdles at the adidas Outdoor Championships in Raleigh. His time of 7.33 for the 55m hurdles tops the U.S. high school lists.

Louisiana State University signee Xavier Carter of Palm Bay ( Fla. ) High School is a marquee entry in the 200 meters. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver was an All-USA Today Offensive Team pick last season. He had 33 catches, good for 618 yards and nine touchdowns. In track, the ‘X-Man' was the 2003 outdoor prep leader in the half-lap with a time of 20.69. Carter won the 200 and 400 at last year's adidas Outdoor Championships.

Lashawn Merritt, who'll run the 200 at NIC, hails from Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth , Va. A wide receiver, he's another member of the great recruiting class assembled by LSU's Nick Saban, who seems to collect football talent the way other men gather bubblegum cards. Merritt blazed into prominence with three sprint victories (55M, 300M, 500M) at this year's Virginia Tech Invite in Blacksburg, Va. He comes to Landover with a season best of 21.31.

In the 60 meters there's Kenny O'Neal of Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif. A Florida State recruit, O'Neal was a first-team football All-American last year. He was also a silver medalist in the 100-meters at the 2003 Pan American Junior Championships in Barbados and won the 100m at the Golden West meet. O'Neal comes to Landover fresh off a convincing triumph at the Simplot Games last month in Pocatello, Idaho. His time of 6.68 leads the national high school list.

Defensive back/wide receiver Trell Kimmons of Coldwater ( Miss. ) High School heard from more than a dozen schools before deciding on Mississippi State. At 5-foot-10, 172-pounds, Kimmons is a wiry combination of speed and strength who won a powerlifting championship last year. A torn quadriceps muscle in 2003 kept him out of the state track meet. Kimmons appears to be completely recovered. He checks in with a time of 21.86 for the 200m, albeit on an oversized, flat track.

“With guys like this in Landover,” quips Mike Byrnes of the National Scholastic Sports Foundation, “we could field a football team with myself and (co-meet director) Jim Spier in the lineup, and still be pretty good.”


National Scholastic Sports Foundation Coach of the Year
– Tony Wells , Colorado Flyers

By Pete Cava

For more than three decades, Tony Wells of the Colorado Flyers has been turning out some of the nation's finest female track and field athletes. He is this year's choice as the National Scholastic Sports Foundation's Coach of the Year.

Wells has been coaching everything from the sprints and hurdles to the jumps for around 35 years. Of an estimated 40,000 track coaches around the nation, he's one of about twenty-five to be certified as a Master Coach. There are lotteries with better odds than that.

“Tony's a guy who doesn't sleep,” says Chris Turner of the Flyers, who has known Wells since 1970, first as an athlete, later as one of his assistant coaches. “He stays up all night reading track articles. The same articles, over and over. Tony is that meticulous. He has an undaunted commitment to excellence.”

Checking out current prep lists, national team rosters and all-time performers in High School Track is like looking at a Colorado Flyers yearbook. There are national record holders like Aleisha Latimer (indoor 50 meters, 55m, 60m) and Yolanda Johnson (50 yard hurdles, 44mH), national team members like Caryl Smith (now coaching at Tennessee), Aspen Burkett and Pam Greene (a 1972 and 1980 Olympian) and current stars like Alexis Joyce (South Carolina), Chelsea Taylor (5-10 high jump, a top high school mark), and, last but not least, Ashley Owens who broke Latimer's national 60m record with her brilliant 7.19 burst at the Simplot Games in February. Owens will compete at NIC this year.

Wells claims the key to his success is elemental. “Coaching is more about discipline and attention to little details,” he says. “First, you have to prepare yourself academically. You have to be a father-figure. And you have to push discipline day-to-day in your program. I believe those are the most important things.”

A native of St. Louis , the 60-year-old Wells has lived in Denver since he was 11. He went to East High School in Denver , and then to Drake University . He's spent the past 35 years working for the City of Denver , where he currently serves as director of recreation programs.

“The little old lady who gave me my start was named Mae Adams,” says Tony. “I started out as a football and basketball coach. She used to send me out with the track and field coach. Any time I'd try to do something on my own, he'd push me back, then he'd go to Ms. Adams and complain that he was the track coach, not me.”

Finally Ms. Adams took Tony to a back room, and told him to keep at it. She was the first to see potential in Wells. “Even though she loved that old coach,” says Tony, “she was determined to move the program forward.”

Structure has been the cornerstone of the Colorado Flyers' success. “When kids come to my program, they know I'm crusty and they've got to do things my way,” he says. “It's a very structured program. I know I say it over and over, but I really think that the difference is the day-to-day discipline.”

Wells beams when the subject turns to Colorado Flyers who have earned college educations through track and field. While athletics isn't life for Wells, it's an important part of living. “I think sports is a building stone, a microcosm of life,” he says. “All the little setbacks you have to overcome, all the interruptions. The moments you don't understand, and then the great moments. It's the best training for future corporate executives.”

Coaching has had its lighter side for Tony. Years ago he was in Syracuse for the indoor scholastic championships with Dawn Riley, the future University of Illinois hurdler. In the preliminaries, Riley managed to reach the final despite banging into every hurdle. Afterwards, Wells and an obviously disappointed Riley sat in silence. “We were sitting together at the top of the stands,” says Tony, “neither one of us saying a word. After a while, she screams, ‘Are you gonna coach me?'”

“Yeah,” Wells calmly replied. “Just don't hit any hurdles.” The words loosened up Riley. “She went down and took second place in the final,” says Wells, chuckling at the remembrance.

One of Wells' favorite memories is from the Simplot Games in Idaho . Dominique Calloway, who would go on to run for Ohio State , was a favored to win the hurdles at the annual indoor event. “She was an ideal athlete to work with,” he says. “One who does everything you tell her. No second-guessing.”

But Calloway's dreams for victory toppled when she tripped and failed to finish. “I thought, that's the end of the show,” says Wells. “That was the race she'd come there to run.”

But Calloway was also entered in the 200 meters, a race in which Latasha Colander of Virginia was the favorite. Wells advised Calloway to put all her effort into the 200. “She did,” says Tony, “and she won. That was a really big moment, to see an athlete pull herself together like that and win.”

But winning isn't the only thing for Wells. “He's just as happy with a 12-second sprinter who gets to 11.9 as he is with a sprinter who goes from 11-flat to 10.9,” says Chris Turner.

Wells believes his selection as Coach of the Year is important – not for him, but for the Colorado Flyers. “The National Scholastic Sports Foundation has always been good to my girls, and over the years they've supported me. That meet (the Nike Indoor Championships) has always meant a lot to me. We try to get scholarships for our athletes. That's the basis of our program. If we do well there, it goes a long way in getting those scholarships.”



By Pete Cava

National Scholastic Sports Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS , January 12, 2004 – Like Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth president of the United States, Ted Ginn Jr. got his start in Raleigh , N.C.

Johnson, who followed Abe Lincoln to the White House, was born there in 1808. Last June in Raleigh, Ginn began an incredible stretch of athletic excellence in two sports – one that spanned seven months, from North Carolina back to Ohio and then to Texas.

Ginn, a senior at Glenville High School in Cleveland , hopes to stay on this roll at the Nike Indoor Championships in Landover, Md., March 13-14. He's one of the favorites in the 60-meter hurdles.

Gretchen Taylor, Glenville's athletic director, says Ginn's amazing two-sport skein comes as no surprise. “He won recognition in football back in ninth grade, says Taylor . “He's always been a fine athlete as well as an outstanding student.”

A handsome, 6-foot-1, 170-pounder, Ginn is vice-president of Glenville's senior class. Taylor describes him as “a really humble kid, a very grounded individual. Just meeting him, you'd never know he has all those plaques, trophies and honors. Everyone here just loves him – teachers, administrators, students.”

A year ago at the Nike meet – the unofficial national indoor high school championships, staged annually by the National Scholastic Sports Foundation – Ginn finished fourth in the 60m hurdles behind Kerron Clement of LaPorte, Texas, Brandys Green of Indianapolis and Jason Richardson of Cedar Hill, Texas.

Outdoors, Ginn finished first in both hurdles finals (110mH, 300mH) at the Ohio state championships. He also ran a leg on the school's victorious 4x400 meter relay and took second in the 200 to lead Glenville to a state title.

Heading to Raleigh for the adidas Outdoor Championships, Ginn drew about as much attention as a free throw in a slam-dunk contest. Pre-meet publicity centered on the two Texans, Jason Richardson and Kerron Clement, even though Ginn hadn't lost a race all season. Richardson (13.51) and Clement (13.61) owned the nation's top two prep times and had split a pair of meetings earlier in the year.

Like Ginn, Richardson was a junior while Clement, the defending 110m hurdles champ, was a senior. A day earlier Clement – one of the University of Florida 's top recruits – had won the intermediate hurdles title, and hoped to become the first double winner of the championships.

Less than six hours before the final, Ginn anchored Glenville's 800-meter sprint medley relay team to a national record time of 1:28.95. He iced Glenville's triumph with an impressive 400-meter split of 45.5.

In the hurdles final, Ginn unfurled a personal best of 13.62 to shade Richardson , with Clement coming in fifth. Ginn's time wound up third on the national prep list for 2003, but Track & Field News ranked him No. 1 for the year in the 110m hurdles on its High School All-America Team.

“I expected to win in Raleigh ,” says Ginn, who also helped Glenville to a second-place finish in the 4x400 meter relay. “The last two hurdles, I knew I had the race.” Ginn says he figured he could beat Richardson and Clement after last year's Nike Indoor Championships in Landover. “I led that race most of the way,” he says. “But I'd been running in cold weather (in Cleveland ), and didn't have much competition up here. They got me on the last couple of hurdles.”

Ginn, who has a tattoo on his right bicep that says ‘God,' along with Glenville's winged-G logo and his last name, took a short break after the Raleigh meet. Then he suited up for football. During the season he rushed for 845 yards and 13 touchdowns on 100 carries, and passed for 931 more yards and 12 TDs on 62-for-92 efficiency.

Defensively, he had eight interceptions and returned five for TDs. He racked up 54 tackles (14 solo) and had seven pass breakups. He also returned four kicks and one punt for TDs. Ginn was named Defensive Player of the Year on the All- USA Today team and attracted scholarship offers from Michigan , Michigan State, Ohio State , Pittsburgh , Southern California and Wisconsin .

Ginn was selected for the East Team at the January 3 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio , an annual showcase for high school talent. His 98-yard kickoff return broke open the game, and the East went on to win 45-28. Selected as M-V-P, Ginn announced on national television that he would attend Ohio State . “I had to go for it,” he says. “It's my home school. It would have made no sense to go out of state, all the way across the country, when Ohio State is just two hours from my house.”

Ginn – whose name is pronounced with a hard ‘G' sound – claims he has no preference between track and football. “Not right now,” he says. “They go hand and hand. There may be a time when I have to pick one over the other, but I'll just wait until that time comes.”

Ted says he'll race in several local meets before heading to this year's Nike Championships. He figures the biggest obstacle will be Jason Richardson, the defending champ and a 7.93 performer in the 60m hurdles last year. “I know he'll be out to get me,” says Ginn, who had a 2003 best of 7.98. “But that will push me ever harder.”

Jack Shepard, senior editor of Track and Field News and the men's editor for the annual High School Track , thinks Ginn has the makings of a track and field star – if he isn't sidetracked by a National Football League career. “Barring injury,” says Shepard, “Ginn would appear capable of rising to national prominence in college, and maybe even world prominence.”

While an NFL career is a possibility, Ginn says his main goal for now is to be a role model. Eventually, he'd like to give back to his school, and also to his favorite sports.

Born April 12, 1985, in Cleveland , Ginn is one of two children born to Jeannette and Ted Ginn Sr. The Ginns also have a daughter, Tiffany, age 24, and an adopted son, Jamario O'Neal. Like Ted Jr., the 17-year-old O'Neal is a top prep football defensive back and an outstanding sprinter.

Ted Sr., who coaches his son in both sports, has mixed feelings about Ted Jr.'s success. “As a coach, sometimes I'm disappointed,” says the elder Ginn. “But as a parent, I'm proud.” Ted Sr. says his son's most gratifying accomplishments are the scholarship to Ohio State and the M-V-P trophy from San Antonio . “Those are two things he didn't have to share with anybody,” he says. “And he loves to share. He understands about giving back.”



By Pete Cava

National Scholastic Sports Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS, January 20, 2004 -Coach Robert Steele of North Rowan High School in Spencer, N.C., will send three of the country's top triple jumpers -- Andre Tillman, Terry Wood and Mark Sturgis of North Rowan (which rhymes with Joanne) NC -- to Landover, Md., for the Nike Indoor Championships.

Situated in the central North Carolina town of Spencer, North Rowan is a Division 2A school in the four-tiered structure of North Carolina sports. "The average 2A school has anywhere from 600 to 900 kids," says Steele. "We only have about 650 students, so we're close to being a 1A school."

But size doesn't matter to North Rowan's team members, who compete against schools from all classes at the North Carolina state meet. Steele's teams have won a dozen state titles, including one last outdoor season. "That one was very satisfying," says Steele, whose last state championship had been in 1998. "We'd been through a bit of a dry spell, so I was happy for the kids."

The 50-year-old Steele almost wasn't around for last year's victory. He made a special vow to postpone retirement until after the 2004 campaign. "I'm tired," he says flatly. "I know that might not make good print, but I'm tired. I could have stopped three or four years ago and been content. But I made a promise to one athlete's mother, a very dedicated parent, and I'm about to fulfill that promise. And when I do, I'm through."

Steele claims his athletes think of themselves as national- and international-caliber performers. "We don't consider ourselves the little 2A school down the road," he says. "We respect everybody, but we don't fear anybody. Our kids look forward to meets like the Nike Indoor Championships, the adidas Outdoor Championships and the U.S. Junior (under-20) Championships."

Steele admits he's lost count of the total number of North Rowan athletes who have won state titles. "We've had well over a hundred," he says. But he's certain that five North Rowan athletes have won national titles at meets like the U.S. Junior Championships, the Nike Indoor Championships and its summer counterpart, the adidas Outdoor Championships. The National Scholastic Sports Foundation stages the annual Nike and adidas meets, which serve as the unofficial national high school championships.

Some state high school programs don't even include the triple jump, but it's a hallmark event at North Rowan. For perspective on the achievements of North Rowan's triple jumpers, imagine the Duchy of Luxembourg surpassing Japan as a leading car manufacturer, or Ireland as a nuclear power. Or maybe Uruguay launching its own space program and beating the U.S. to Mars.

"The tradition started in the late 1980s," explains Steele. "In the early '90s, we had guys who made some kind of track and field history." In those days, Steele coached Brian Ellis - the 1991 season leader at 52-10.75 - and twins Emmanuel and Reggie Barnes-Smith. Emmanuel was a 50-3.75 performer, while Reggie went 49-6.25. All three were among the nation's best in the triple jump, which is like a baseball team with three outfielders in the 40-homer range.

North Rowan's tradition has carried on through Steele's summer club team, the Rowan Express. "The little kids watched Brian, Emmanuel and Reggie, and they developed," says Steele. In 1998 Greg Yeldell, North Rowan's best-known triple jumper, set the national prep triple jump record of 53-11.25.

On current high school triple jump performance lists, Andre Tillman leads the way at 49-4.25, followed by Terry Wood at 48-10 and Mark Sturgis at 48-1.75. Tillman, a surprise winner of the 2002 adidas outdoor Championships as a sophomore, jumped 47-11.25 outdoors last season.

"Technically, we might have the top three performers in the country," says Steele. At the powerful Simplot Games in February, the North Rowan trio swept the top three places in both long jump and triple jump.

The long jump may be Tillman's best event. "He's had some really big fouls lately," says Steele. "Once we work out the little technical things, he's probably going to jump 24 feet." Tillman, described by Steele as a "very gifted young man," also has sub-39-second speed for the 300-meter hurdles.

Like Tillman, Terry Wood is a versatile athlete. "He's a 22-7 long jumper, a 49-9 triple jumper, and has a 14.63 best for the high hurdles," says Steele. "Indoors, he's run the [55m] hurdles in 7.80. He also runs on our 4x200 meter relay team."

Mark Sturgis transferred over the summer from West Rowan High School . Steele says his bests are 49-9 for the triple jump, 22-0 in the long jump, and 39.5 in the intermediate hurdles.

"Tillman, Wood and Sturgis are all planning on college next year," says Steele. "Right now they're working on academics and getting ready for the SATs."

North Rowan also has an impressive underclassman, high jumper DeMarcus Stallings. Last year as a sophomore, Stallings cleared 6-10. Steele sees him as "a kid with great potential. He's playing basketball right now, so he's only part-time in track and field."

Steele is currently working on Stalling's approach and believes he has the potential to clear seven feet - even though the 5-foot, 10-inch Stallings isn't built like the typical high jumper. "He's just 16 years old, soon to be 17," says Steele, "and if you look at him, you won't believe what he does. Five-foot-10 might be stretching it. We think he can do a lot more than high jump."

Until a few seasons ago, Steele also served as an assistant football coach at North

Rowan. He stepped down due to health reasons, but still goes all out during track season. For a recent Saturday meet, Steele and his athletes left North Rowan at 4:30 a.m., then drove to a competition in Fork Union, Va. By the time meet ceremonies finished it was around 11:00 p.m., and Steele and his charges were on the road again. "We got home at 5:00 a.m. Sunday," says Steele. "It made for a long day, and there's no way I could have done it without [assistant coach] Bryan Mills. If it wasn't for him, I don't know if I'd still be coaching right now."

Steele was planning on retirement several years ago, but Maggie Tillman, Andre's mother, talked him out of it. "She was the secretary for Rowan Express and the backbone of our club," Steele explains. "She was a great worker, one of those parents who really made a difference for our kids. I promised her that I'd stay on through this year."

Maggie was the kind of parent who would take charge of fund-raising efforts, and if a team member skipped practice, she was the one who sought out the athlete to find out why. "Our program is about more than just track and field," says Steele. "We teach a lot of life lessons, and we work very hard to try to get kids into colleges. That way they can use their athletic gifts to pay for their education. She never said no. Her mission was my mission."

Maggie passed away last September, a victim of cancer. It's a rare day when Steele doesn't think of her. "She was the person who held it all together," he says with a catch in his voice. "She's very much missed."

Steele has been staging an invitational meet for the past five seasons, and one of last year's events was dedicated to the memory of Maggie Tillman. "She loved the triple jump," says Steele, "and there was a plaque for the winner." Tillman, Sturgis and Wood were entered and, says Steele, "they really went at it."

Wood emerged the winner, earning the plaque. He turned around and presented it to Andre Tillman in memory of his mother. "That's the kind of kids we have in this program. It's made the job really easy."

Steele also credits NSSF's Jim Spier for making his job easier. "When I first started out, we drove all over the country for meets. I'd driven my kids to Syracuse [for indoor nationals] when Jim showed me there was a better way. He taught me how to put together money for the team. Jim and the National Scholastic Sports Foundation have supported our kids. There are a lot of people to thank. And I thank all of them."



Nike Indoor Championships


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John Dye

Baltimore MD