With his transition to a larger school, St. Albans runner Jon Sandy readied for a bigger stage and greater athletic opportunities, though his will and talent prepared him plenty for the challenges ahead.
Sandy, a sophomore, transferred from Teays Valley Christian School to St. Albans this school year, and while it’s been a change of scenery, his effort and solid results continue as he competes against the state’s top runners. Sandy, ranked ninth according to runwv.com in Class AAA for the 3200-meter run, will race at today’s Capital City Classic, hosted by Capital at University of Charleston Stadium.
His time with Teays Valley Christian provided him the foundation from which to build greatness, but Sandy said he’s so far enjoyed consistently challenging himself with opportunities against the state’s top public school competition.
“I love my coaches down at Teays Valley and they’ve given me a lot of information to work with from the beginning,” he said. “Whenever I transferred over from Teays Valley Christian School to St. Albans, I knew that’s what I would be up against, and I just knew if I gave my best effort, I would get some good times out of them.”
Last season, Sandy ran 10:32 in the 3200 (two-mile), his best event. At the Winfield Classic April 18, Sandy broke the 10-minute barrier for his first time with a 9:57 run.
In addition to his speed, St. Albans first-year track coach Mike Reed said among Sandy’s defining characteristics is his determination and work ethic.
“He absolutely has shown the qualities that he’s willing to work real hard,” Reed said. “When we first started the season he was running about 70 miles a week, and so now we’ve kind of choked that down that down a bit, because we’re down to the last five weeks of the season. But, he’s a tremendously hard worker.”
Todd McMillan coaches Sandy with the Capital City Striders cross country team and McMillan said he agreed with Reed on Sandy’s dedication.
“He’s a really hard working kid,” McMillan said. “I’ve never seen so much determination in one person. You tell him to run 15 miles, he’ll run 15 miles. This kid refuses to lose.”
For Sandy, there’s no lack in motivation now routinely running against the area’s best and his first opportunity to qualify for both the regional and the state championship meets.
“Getting to run against big guys like (George Washington’s) Matt Brafford and (Capital’s) Marshall Sharp and them, that’s great stuff,” Sandy said. “Being able to compete at regionals and possibly states for the first time is exciting.”
Because Sandy continues to cut his times at such drastic rates, he said he’s constantly setting new marks for him to achieve.
“New goals coming up all over the place,” he said. “I would like to qualify for states obviously. That’s always in picture, and coming up this cross country season I would like to shoot for a top-three spot and get All-State.”
This track season, Sandy is expected to challenge for state championship points in both the 1600 and 3200, though Reed said he sees the longer distance as Sandy’s forte.
“I think the 3200 is probably going to be his strength,” Reed said. “I really believe that the 3200, by the time he’s a senior, will be his best event.”
Sandy said he agreed, for now, the 3200 fits him best.
“I feel like I am more suited right now in the 3200-meter,” he said.
As for strategy, Sandy said it’s go fast as far as he can.
“You just have to go out there from the beginning and you hold on for as long as you can and see what you have in the last 200 meters,” he said.
Beyond the miles in practice, Sandy gave credit to his coaches for his continued improvement.
“To be honest, I got to say it’s my coaches and the training that they give me,” Sandy said. “Along with that, it’s my support system that I have in my team and my family and all that. It’s more than just training.”
With a solid start to his career at St. Albans, Sandy said he hopes to keep moving forward with even better results.
“It’s been exciting, I really enjoy it a lot,” Sandy said of joining St. Albans. “I’m pleased with how things are going. I just look to keep building on it, of course.”
Sandy and the Red Dragons track team will compete at today’s Capital City Classic, as many other area teams will attend also. Other schools expecting to send athletes to the meet include Capital (fifth-ranked boys, AAA), Chapmanville, George Washington (eighth-ranked boys, AAA), Ripley, Scott, Sherman and Winfield (ninth-ranked boys and girls, AAA), among others.