BLYTHEWOOD – Westwood High track and field coach Lawrence Terry expects his boys and girls teams to finish in the top three next month at State, an expectation that indicates how far the Redhawk program has come under his direction in a very short period of time.
“We expect both teams to do well at regionals and then it is on the athletes at state qualifiers,” Terry told scrunners.com earlier this week as he was preparing his teams for this weekend’s Taco Bell Classic in Columbia.
Related: Where are they now - Westwood coach Lawrence Terry
Westwood High opened in 2012 and Terry has been its only track and field coach. The school hosted its first invitational earlier this season, and this year’s boys group includes some of the top throwers, jumpers and distance runners in the state. Two of those jumpers are juniors Richie Finch and Adonus Lee. Both have jumps of over six feet this year – Finch at 6-2 and Lee clearing 6-6.
The two have known each other since middle school, competing for separate schools at the time. Since moving up to Westwood, Finch and Lee have become close friends and teammates, first on the Redhawk varsity basketball team and for the first time this year on the track.
“I have known Adonus since the inception of Westwood High,” Terry said. He said Adonus told him that he previously high jumped during summer track.
The coach connected with Lee during this year’s basketball season.
“After noticing his athleticism on the court, I told him he should come out for track.”
Terry, a 2002 graduate of Richland Northeast High and a top high school hurdler, said Lee’s experience in track and field, along with Lee’s friendship with Finch, helped both in their high jumping.
“Competition is a great thing to have at practice,” Terry said. “Richie started off a little hesitant about jumping and that is where having a close friend training with you comes in handy.”
Competing with Lee in track and field “has brought us much closer,” Finch said. “Adonus is almost like a brother to me now. He is an experienced high jumper and he has taught me a lot in the short time that I have been jumping.”
Finch has cleared 6-2 despite being at somewhat of a disadvantage beyond his lack of experience in the sport. Finch said he’s having trouble finding spikes to fit his size 16 feet, so he competes in his basketball shoes.
“It is extremely difficult to find spikes in a size 16, so I work with what I have,” he said. “I can't tell if it’s taking away from my ability to perform on the track because I've never been in spikes.”
Adding to that handicap, Finch must finish out this year’s season without Lee, who suffered a leg fracture and pulled hamstring a couple of weeks ago. Lee had gotten off to a very promising year, clearing 6-6 in two straight meets, with hopes of reaching 6-8 or 6-10 by the end of the season. Now, he’s using the injury as motivation for the months ahead.
“This injury is just a minor setback for a major comeback, and it motivates me to work even harder this summer.”
Terry thinks both Lee and Finch will have standout senior years at Westwood.
“I know they both will clear seven feet in 2015. They put in the work at practice to achieve that goal.”
Hopefully by then, Lee will be wearing a pair of size 16 spikes.