Chandon Smith went through somewhat of a transformation this season.
“We actually took a sprinter and turned him into a hurdler,” West Iredell track and field coach Monte Simmons said.
Smith didn’t forget how to sprint well in the process.
The West Iredell senior had success in both phases this spring and was named the R&L County Male Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
“I enjoyed this season a lot,” Smith said. “It’s probably the best one yet.”
Smith, a Catawba College signee, placed third and seventh, respectively, in the 300-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash during last month’s 2A state championship meet in Greensboro. His time of 40.54 seconds in hurdles was slightly off the pace of the winner (40.02).
Smith ran 22.88 in the 200, 91-one hundredths of a second out of first place.
He was pleased about both performances but particularly having earned a spot on the podium in hurdles. As a junior, Smith and three West Iredell teammates qualified for the state meet in the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays. They finished with a pair of top 10s but outside the top five.
“Last year’s state appearance hit me hard,” Smith said. “We were probably first or second all year in those events until then. Making it that far and leaving not in the top three, it was kind of a downfall.
“My goal was to make it back to state and medal.”
In a reversal of sorts, Smith qualified for the 2019 state meet in individual events, not as a member of a relay.
In 2018, Smith ran 51.81 in the 400 meters to place sixth in the 2A Midwest regional. That wasn’t good enough to advance.
“His willingness as a leader to change (events), hopefully the younger ones see that coaches coach for a reason, and we have their best interests at heart,” Simmons said.
“He was a 400 runner. We wanted to put him in the best position to get to states and we didn’t think the 400 was it. He qualified for the 300 hurdles without the form, but he sure could run it. He’ll continue to improve on the form next year in college.”
Aided by a first-place finish in 300 hurdles (41.83 seconds), Smith was named the male MVP runner at the Iredell County Track & Field Championships. He also anchored the Warriors’ 4x200-winning relay that claimed that title with a time of 1:33.05.
Had it not been for the starting runner’s false start, resulting in disqualification, Smith feels they would have won the 4x100 county championship as well. He garnered a top-three finish in the 200.
The Northwestern Foothills Conference named him its Male Sprinter of the Year. He won conference titles in the 300 hurdles, 200 dash and 4x100 relay.
Smith was 2A Midwest region runner-up in the 200, and he captured the title in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.28 seconds. It was more than 1.5 seconds faster than the runner-up, bolstering his confidence entering the state meet.
“It’s mind and legs, and if I had the heart to do it I knew I’d be all right,” Smith said. “I was prepared. I knew I was ready.”
Smith is preparing for the next chapter in his academic and athletic career.
That takes him to Salisbury, where he will join the Catawba College track and field team.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I know it’s a different level, that people will be faster, stronger. That’s what pushes me for the next stage. Once I prepare on that level, I’ll be destined for greatness.”
All-County Boys Track & Field Team
100 meters: Keshaun Black, Mooresville
200 meters: Chandon Smith, West Iredell
400 meters: Cole Krehnbrink, Pine Lake Prep
800 meters: Kevin Biglow, Statesville
1,600 meters: Damien Gonzalez, Mooresville
3,200 meters: Damien Gonzalez, Mooresville
110-meter hurdles: Carson Bavery, Mooresville
300-meter hurdles: Chandon Smith, West Iredell
4x100 relay: Mooresville (Keshaun Black, Sean Hill, Justin Torrence, Treymin Jackson)
4x200 relay: South Iredell (Michael Clark-Kitchen, Kaleel Stevenson, Justin Turner, Adithya Rajendran)
4x400 relay: Pine Lake Prep (Jeremy Shatsha, Greyson Fox Tran, Lukas Valley, Cole Krehnbrink)
4x800 relay: Mooresville (Carter Tacosik, Damien Gonzalez, Matt Ferrara, Eli Blackwelder)
Shot put: Reggie Spratling, Mooresville
Discus: Reggie Spratling, Mooresville
Long jump: Ryan Tenor, West Iredell
Triple jump: Ryan Tenor, West Iredell
High jump: Cole Krehnbrink, Pine Lake Prep
Pole vault: Spencer Evans, Lake Norman