On a day when most runners were looking to take it easy and avoid injury while preparing for the Big Ten Championships, Michigan freshman Darren Adams had a breakout meet at the Harold Silverston Invitational.
Michigan coach Ron Warhurst described the runners in general at the meet as “a little apprehensive overall. They don”t want to take a chance of hurting themselves.”
But Adams was anything but apprehensive. After coming to Michigan from athletic powerhouse St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, he displayed a noticeable tenacity on both the track and field events. Adams started off the day with a respectable fourth-place finish in the long jump. Adams is better known for his high jumping, an event in which he took third place at the George Mason Invitational two weeks ago.
Next up for Adams was the 60-meter dash, in which he ran a time of 7.14 seconds. That time put him in seventh place, third among Michigan sprinters, behind regulars Ike Okenwa and Nathan Taylor. In the finals, Adams showed determination and improved his time, earning sixth place with a time of 7.08 seconds.
Adams most impressive showing came in the finals of the 200-meter dash. After watching senior sprinter Ike Okenwa smoke the field with a time of 21.56 seconds in the first heat of the finals, Adams had a mission. After a solid start out of the blocks, Adams pulled away from the pack and never looked back. When his surprising time of 21.93 was put up on the board, Okenwa yelled to Warhurst that he was responsible for that unexpected performance. Warhurst didn”t anticipate that time from Adams either.
“Yeah, it”s a surprise,” Warhurst said. “But when you have a kid with as much ability as he does and he starts doing stuff, it”s a pleasant surprise.”
Adams” raw ability and blazing speed are things that he has been looking to harness in practice this past week.
“Darren is one of those guys who doesn”t think when he runs, he just runs,” Okenwa said.
In practice, the senior leader, Okenwa, saw Adams struggling while running with the other jumpers. Okenwa approached Adams in practice on Friday in hopes of helping the youngster improve.
“I noticed he was getting beat horribly on the block,” Okenwa said. “I was giving him some pointers on what I do to help him fine tune his skills.”
Okenwa also was on a mission to improve the starts of his own races.
“I”m the kind of guy who comes out toward the end,” Okenwa said. “My main focus today was fine tuning, getting my start down better.”
Thanks to tutelage from experienced runners like Okenwa, the Wolverines are hoping for more outstanding performances from Adams like the one he had on Saturday. With any luck, the Wolverines might just get another outstanding performance this weekend when Michigan takes part in the Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis.