CEDAR RAPIDS — Track? What’s track?
That was Ronnie Henderson, not so long ago.
Growing up through the Cedar Rapids elementary and middle-school ranks, Henderson was fast.
But he was a basketball kid. And a football kid.
“It used to be basketball first,” he said.
“Now track comes before everything,” he said.
Track? Yeah, track.
A junior at Cedar Rapids Washington, Henderson is coming off a spectacular state meet. He was the Class 4A runner-up in the 100- and 200-meter races and anchored the Warriors to the 800-meter relay title and third in the 400-meter relay.
Jarred Herring of Burlington, the 2008 4A champion in the 100 and 200, has graduated, leaving Henderson as the favorite in both.
“I want to win all the events I’m in — the 100, 200, 4-by-100 and 4-by-200,” Henderson said.
Henderson wants glory from track. And more.
“I want to get a scholarship and I want to run in college somewhere,” he said.
That probably would have seemed quite unlikely a year or two ago.
Henderson spent the 2006-07 school year at Woodward Academy in central Iowa. According to the school’s Web site, Woodward Academy “is an all-male program which offers unique programs that are tailored to serve youth with a variety of specific treatment needs.
“These (include) a 90-day highly structured boot camp that targets youth new to the criminal justice system and a community residential program for youth who are in need of a longer length of stay.”
It’s unclear why Henderson was at Woodward. This much is clear: It introduced him to track.
“I didn’t think I wanted to try it,” he said. “The first time I ran the 100, I ran 11.37 on concrete. They said that was pretty good.”
At state, he was the 1A 200-meter champion (22.69) and finished second in the 100 (11.60).
Before the track season, Henderson knew he was coming back to Cedar Rapids. At Washington, his state times improved to 11.06 and 22.33 last season.
Eligibility-wise, he was considered a junior last year. But Washington officials petitioned the Iowa High School Athletic Union for an extra year, and it was granted.
“On the original list, when he was a sophomore, he should have been a freshman,” said Washington boys’ track coach Bill Pinckney. “It was as if a whole year vanished into thin air.
“A lot of good decisions were made by (the IHSAA).”
Henderson hopes to break the 11-second mark in the 100 and the 22-second barrier in the 200. He thinks an improved start might be the ticket.
“I used to have my dominant foot up in the blocks instead of the back, where it should be,” he said. “I flipped it around, and it helps.
“I’m not great out of the blocks. I’m good about building up speed. That’s what I like — building speed and catching someone.”
Henderson still plays football — he caught 18 passes for 294 yards and four touchdowns as a slotback for Tony Lombardi’s team, which finished 11-2 and reached the Class 4A state semifinals last fall — and basketball.
But his primary sport?
It’s track. Yeah, track.