Wearing a sleek bright orange speed suit and blue and silver spikes, sophomore Derrick Wang approaches the starting line alongside competitors from all across the Eastern state. He jumps up and down two times, bends down, props his leg on a block and firmly places his fingertips to the track in starting position. He closes his eyes, breathes deeply, and clears his mind of all distractions, attentively awaiting the piercing sound of the gun. “On your mark!… Get set!… [gun shot]!”
Wang makes his best record yet: 6.7 seconds for the 55-meter dash—a 0.1-second improvement from his previous personal record for the season and a whopping 0.4-second improvement from his freshman personal record.
Wang qualified for all three championships: Team County Championships, State Qualifiers, and Eastern State Championships. According to Coach Damon Reader, this is a “tremendous season for a sophomore.”
Wang is currently the fastest 55-meter runner on the team and has run the fastest 55-meter times Coach Reader has seen in the 15 years he has been coaching track.
Wang has also received several other accolades for his achievements in track, including medals from the Molloy Stanner, Metropolitan Invitational, and Nassau Coaches meets. In addition, he received the Coach’s Award for both Spring Track in 2011 and Winter Track in 2012.
Wang is extremely active in sports year-round: he competes in fall junior varsity football, varsity winter track, varsity spring track, and even plays golf on the weekends in his spare time.
Although he has always been physically active, Wang never realized his true talent for running until his freshman year. “After running the 100-meter dash and medaling in the Frosh/Soph Championships in my freshman year, I felt inspired and wondered how far I could take myself if I pushed myself,” said Wang. “That was my turning point.”
Coach Reader’s emphasis on “having the right attitude” influenced Wang and inspired him to work hard during the summer to sharpen his skills. He said, “I trained at the school track, practicing drills over and over since drills are one of the key parts of sprinting.”
Wang also draws inspiration from Siddartha Gautama, who said,“What we think, we become.” Wang said, “I think of the goals I want [to achieve] and work hard to accomplish them.” He went on to say, “So far, this year, I’ve achieved the goals I set out for myself.”
Running track is as mentally challenging as it is physically. Right before a race, Wang clears his mind of all negative thoughts and only thinks about winning his race. “If I allow a negative thought to sneak in, it’ll weaken my confidence and I’ll run poorly,” said Wang. “It’s easy for that to happen, especially when the other competitors are older, physically bigger and stronger.”
Wang has distinguished himself as a hard worker and has shown his willingness to work in order to improve. “He’s unbelievably dedicated [and] future captain material,” said Senior Captain Ari Shabi.
“I see a lot of potential in him, and he has matured so much in one year… He teaches and motivates the younger kids on the team,” said Senior Aron B. “If he sticks with it through senior year, he could probably take some sprint records.”
Wang gives credit to his parents and Coach Reader who have always supported and encouraged him. He also believes it is helpful to be surrounded by motivated and dedicated runners every day who inspire him to work harder. Wang looks forward to spring track and has great ambitions for his track career.
“Although I have improved, I still have a lot to learn,” said Wang.