FLORENCE, S.C. — Not even a sports shutdown will slow Yavin Smith’s quest for a state championship in the SCHSL Class 4A 100 meters.
It’s top podium or bust for the Wilson High School star, who has already signed to play football at North Greenville University.
According to the website scrunners.com, Smith holds the fastest time at 10.89 seconds. Teammate Chris Austin, meanwhile, is second at 10.98.
Smith, who recorded his top time with a win March 7 at Columbia International’s Rams High School Invitational, said confidence is key.
“If you feel like you’re the best in what you’re doing out there, you’re going to do your best,” Smith said. “And because of that, you’ll win, most likely.”
But Austin got the better end of the results in their final meet before SCHSL competition was postponed because of the coronavirus.
In the March 14 Sumter Optimist Invitational, however, it was Austin who finished first at 10.98. Smith, meanwhile, tied for second in that race at 10.99.
“He got me, but it’s all good competition,” Smith said. “On the track, we always say we want to finish 1-2 to get our team the most points. The thing is, when you constantly win, you’ve got nobody to push you to get better. So in every day at practice that we’ve had, each day was a chance to make each of us better.”
Before Benny Morgan took over as Wilson’s track coach this year, he watched Smith run last spring. He certainly was impressed.
“When I watched him run last year, I thought he needed some technique work to look more like a track guy instead of a football guy,” Morgan said. “This year, he’s definitely a lot smoother. The stretch and speed is still there. He looks more like a runner now instead of a football player while running down the track.”
Morgan also noticed another advantage for Smith.
“I think not having the distraction of football this spring has him extremely focused,” Morgan said. “He’s not having to lift weights every day and get ready for spring practice. So his body is fresher for races.”
Smith still works out, and he uses that to help him with starts to his races.
“The start is the most important part of a race like that,” Smith said. “When you get off to a good start, everybody else behind you is in a panic. And when they’re in a panic, they start to fade away.”
While organized practices can’t happen, Smith is still working out on his own.
“I still go outside and run and work on footwork,” Smith said. “I just get on the street and run.”
It’s that kind of drive that impresses Morgan.
“One time, when I didn’t put him on the 4x400 relay, he was a bit bothered by it because he’s a competitor,” Morgan said. “But I was just trying to save his legs. The fact he still wanted to run the 4x400? You don’t get that from a lot of guys who run the 100.”
And if the season resumes, Morgan thinks Smith can certainly contend for the state crown.
“I think his chances are excellent,” Morgan said. “We’ve also talked about him trying to win the 100 and 200. And that’s kind of where his mindset is, too.”