Saturday, April 18, 2009

"4.7? I ain't run a 4.7 in forever."

Those were the words of one frustrated sprinter at today's South Carolina Shrine Bowl Combine workout at Dorman High just outside of Spartanburg. The 40-yard-dashes were being run on a grassy practice field, and times better than 4.5 seconds were rare, perhaps non-existent.

There were reasons that many in the crowd of 140 players from across the state struggled in the event. Tracks, with their non-yielding surfaces, always produce times that are at least somewhat better than turf-generated speeds.

But that's the point, according to Fairfield Central High coach Reggie Kennedy, the organizer of the event.

"They ain’t gonna be playing on a track; they’re gonna be playing on grass,” he said. "They also want to wear their track shoes; here, they’ve got to wear football cleats."

Still, occasionally players were not hurt by the switch to sod. Guys like linebacker Chris Beitz, a 6-1, 191-pound LB from Seneca High. Beitz's personal best had been 4.54 seconds. Saturday, he ran a 4.5 and a 4.52, prompting whoops from a timer or two.

His secret? Maybe the fact that in the offseason, he runs up and down the fairly steep hill in his backyard, ten times, every other day. He hasn't received a lot of recruiting attention yet, but that could change.--Stan Olson

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