Fatherly advice factors significantly into the training for George Washington hurdler Will Walker, and Walker proved that wisdom’s worth by winning both of his hurdle events at Friday’s Capital City Classic track meet.
Walker, a junior at GW, ranks among the state’s top 10 Class AAA hurdlers in both the 110-meter high hurdles and 300-meter intermediate hurdles. Among the keys to Walker’s training is the guidance from his father and Patriots coach Brent Walker, a former state champion hurdler and University of North Carolina track athlete.
“It’s definitely an advantage,” Will Walker said having his dad’s experience to reference. “We go over hurdle drills all the time and we keep doing the same things. It’s more about the technique he teaches me. We’re getting everything together.
“I think I have the best hurdle coach in the state, and he’s worked with me a lot through the 300 hurdles and the 110 high hurdles, but he’s encouraging me every meet we go to.”
Will Walker won the 110 hurdles at Friday’s meet in 15.72 seconds and claimed the 300 hurdles in :40.25, more than two seconds faster than his closest competitor, while setting a personal record.
“It’s really a great accomplishment for me,” Will Walker said. “It’s helping me, giving me confidence for down the road and hopefully, at the state meet, I can perform as well.”
In addition to decreasing times, Brent Walker said he sees an increase in his son’s poise as the season progresses.
“The opportunity to work with him has been great,” Brent Walker said. “He’s shown a lot of confidence, a lot of leadership on the George Washington team, and he just works really hard.
“He works hard and he’s improved every single meet. I think that bodes well for him as we look toward the Gazettes and the confidence in the regionals.”
Though Will Walker ranks among the Mountain State’s best in both individual hurdle events, he said he feels best-suited for the 300s.
“It’s longer and I have more time to get faster and build up my strength toward the end and really work my arms,” Will Walker said.
In a sport that focuses on leg speed and strength, Will Walker said perhaps his dad’s best advice has been on another area.
“Probably moving my arms really well down the home stretch has really helped me a lot and my speed workouts have helped,” Will Walker said.
No matter the particular piece of insight imparted, Brent Walker said he’s more than happy to share time with his son and also tricks of the trade.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to pass my knowledge of the sport and of that particular event on down,” Brent Walker said. “He’s come a long way, but his best days are ahead, for sure, so I’m excited on two levels. Certainly, as the coach at George Washington, but also as a father, it’s cool to have him run events that I ran and were successful in.”
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THE HOST Capital boys and Winfield girls won the respective team titles at Friday’s Capital City Classic, but just as notable the Charleston Catholic girls squad performed strong against many of the event’s larger participating teams.
The Class A Irish girls finished third, behind Winfield and Buckhannon-Upshur, but ahead of several AAA schools, including host Capital, GW and Ripley.
“When I looked back and added things up, I was a little surprised we finished that high up,” Catholic coach Scott Welch said. “We surged there at the end with our 2-milers and 4x400. We found a lot of points there, but I was really pleased with them.”
Sophomore Payton Mullen won the 3200 for the Irish, as teammates Hannah Gacek, a freshman, and senior Annie Crockett also garnered points with their respective third- and sixth-place finishes.
“Payton Mullen, looks like in the two-mile, mile and 800, she may going in ranked first in the state in all three of those categories,” Welch said.
Senior Catherine Casingal also posted an impressive performance, Welch said, as she claimed fourth place in the pole vault with a personal record of eight feet, six inches.
With Caroline Dundervill soon to be cleared from an injury, Welch said he expects the team to continue to improve.
“If she gets healthy, I think every one of our relays potentially could be a very, very strong team that could be top three across the board in all the relays,” he said.