Henderson lit up Spring Fling

Henderson lit up Spring Fling


Henderson lit up Spring Fling



Within two hours on a Friday evening last month, Jerome Henderson was able to erase 30 years of futility for a Clarksville High sprinter.

In that single 24-hour period, he etched his name among the great sprinters in Montgomery County history and brought up the first 100 and 200-meter double in the city of Clarksville’s history on the boys’ side.

State championships are rare and hard to come by. With all the recent success and explosion of high school athletics in the city, only a select few have been able to capture that elusive state crown.

Henderson is one of them.

After dominating the sprints in the midstate this past spring that culminated with state titles in the 100 and 200 at Spring Flight, Henderson has been named The Leaf-Chronicle All Area Boys Track Athlete of the Year. The award is voted on by the newspaper’s sports staff while the All Area Track Team is selected by area athletics directors.

“My goal was to win a state championship but it’s still hard to think that it’s actually going to happen,” Henderson said just after capturing the 100 state title in a time of 10.97 seconds last month. “You work so hard for a goal and you work toward it but sometimes it seems just out of reach.”

There was very little standing in Henderson’s way this past season. He captured first place in every local track meet during the regular season and, although challenged outside of Montgomery County, was able to hold his own against some of the state’s fastest in 3A. Yet Henderson worked on his technique despite the fact that it was becoming obvious who the favorite to win the 100 would be going into Murfreesboro.

“There were a lot of things I had to work on this year,” Henderson said last month. “Getting off to quicker starts was one of them.”

And it plagued him when the gun sounded for the state finals in the race in May. Henderson was sitting in fourth place in the first 25 meters but he remembered his training all season and relaxed.

“When I did that I could tell I was starting to pull out in front,” Henderson recalled. “From that point, I just tried to stay relaxed and remember to breathe and keep my form strong.”

After capturing the 100, Henderson had time to rest before the 200. Again, his block start wasn’t picture perfect but it took even less time for him to find the leader spot as he rounded the curve for the final 100 meters. After crossing the line first and standing in the top position on the medal stand for the second time that day, Henderson was calm as he tried to describe his emotions of pulling off the double.

“I’m just glad I could complete it,” he said last month. “It feels good to be up there twice in one day. I’m really trying to take it all in because it’s all happening so fast.”

He finished the 200 in a time of 21.69 seconds and that was after starting the race from the difficult No. 8 lane. He barely qualified for the 200 during prelims the day before after he said he failed to stay properly hydrated. He made sure hydration wouldn’t be an issue for the finals, holding off his competitors down the stretch.

Henderson admitted that he barely remembered the 100 race but tried to calm his nerves before the 200. Regardless of those inner butterflies, he was able to accomplish a feat not season in Clarksville since 2003 — capture the 100. Northeast’s Chris Pearson won it in ’03 while Donnie Dowlen was the last Wildcat sprinter to win it in 1982.


More USA TODAY High School Sports