Dana Smothers, Harford Tech, track and field

Q&A --

May 20, 2007|By BILL FREE

Harford Tech sophomore Dana Smothers wanted to become a sprinter but was told by his coach, Mike Griffith, and assistant principal, Larry Dunlap, that he had the perfect build for a middle distance runner. Smothers, 5 feet 6 and 135 pounds, already has established a Harford Tech record in the 400-meter run (51.5 seconds) while winning the Susquehanna Division of the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference. Smothers also took the 800 in the Susquehanna Division with a personal best of 2:04. Smothers has Griffith for English class, and the coach said his track star is known for keeping the atmosphere light, for instance giving unusual voices to characters in stories he is reading to the class. "He's a character in the classroom," Griffith said. "He's actually a lot of fun. No matter what goes on, it could be the worse day, but he's a bundle of energy.

What makes you have compassion for people you beat in track?

I beat a senior, Shawn Stone, on my team and I was like, I didn't really want to beat him too bad because it was his last year. But my coach said it would be good for him because he would work harder. That made me feel good.

What drives you so hard on the track?

My freshman year we went up to the state competition and I was looking through the book and they had the records listed. The 400-meter record was 46.24 and ever since then I've been wanting to beat that. So that's been driving me. I want to beat that.

Is it true you are already giving tips to other runners?

I know how it feels to lose all the time. Now that I've gotten a little bit better, I go up to people at the races and I talk to them. I tell them they did a good job. If they do something wrong, I tell them how to fix it and stuff. My freshman year, I was still learning, and a lot of people are making the mistakes I used to make. It's kind of easy for me to talk to them and fix their mistakes.

What's the main thing you tell people who are making mistakes?

Like when they're running the 400, I tell them when to hit their next gear to run faster. Like don't hit it too early - hit it at the 200 mark.

What's the most significant thing you do outside of track and field?

I'm in a church youth group called Youth Under Construction. We go out and help homeless people. We have fundraisers and we buy dinners and stuff for the homeless.

Do you have any accomplishments in other sports?

I rushed for 1,000 yards in football last fall and scored four touchdowns, and I wrestled in the 119-pound weight class. My main focus in college will be track, and if I get a little bigger, I'll play football.

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