It would be pretty easy for Mykele Sanders to avoid track & field and pursue other interests, considering the fact that his mother was an Olympian in the sport.
However, Sanders doesn’t see life on the track as an added pressure or a burden. To the Dover High sophomore, running sprints and leaping hurdles is just plain fun.
His mother, Candy Young, has been plenty busy herself since she became the first female director of athletics at Delaware State University when she was hired on Aug. 13, 2012.
Sanders is hoping to add to the family legacy in the DIAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship Meet at Caesar Rodney’s Riders Stadium today. Young will be watching as her son is among the favorites in the 110-meter hurdles, the 300 hurdles and the 200 dash. But she won’t be meddling.
“My mom stays away and tries to let me feel my own way … but she helps me when I need it, and that’s the part I love about it,” Sanders said. “She doesn’t want to interfere with being in high school and getting coached by a coach for the first time.
“She’s balanced, and that’s what I like. She stays quiet. She doesn’t cheer, and she doesn’t yell. After every race, I just sit down and talk with her, and we just go through my race. She’s balanced. She knows her role.”
Young admits it’s not always easy. She’s seen first-hand the potential pitfalls of too much, too soon that has derailed other track prodigies, including some of her peers.
“Oh my goodness, when I see the potential,” Young said about her son. “I believe the hardest thing I can do is guard him from everything. It’s easy to see that he wants to succeed so badly and he has that desire. We try to keep it on a have-fun level.”
Sanders is ready to break out and make a name for himself statewide. After all, his first name (pronounced Michael) mistakenly was mispronounced by the public address announcer and his last name was written as “Sander” on the result sheets at last Friday night’s Henlopen Conference Championship Meet.
“That’s what I’m trying to do, so I’m not ‘Candy Young’s son’ all the time,” he said. “I’m Mykele Sanders.”
Sanders’ results spoke for themselves. He recorded three state-best times in becoming the only runner to win three titles at the Henlopen meet. He captured the 110-meter hurdles in 14.20 seconds, the 300 hurdles in 38.09 seconds and the 200 dash in 21.76 seconds.
“I was just having some fun, stretching out and getting a feel for how I want to be toward the end of the season – just peaking at the right time,” Sanders said. “I’ve come a long way. It’s been a really good year. It’s been a lot of fun with the seniors and getting ready for them to go. I’m just enjoying it all and trying to take it all in.”
James Solomon, Dover’s head coach, said one of the most impressive things about Sanders is his ability to fit in with the team.
“Candy Young has to be an inspiration to Mykele, and it kind of filtered down to me and our program,” Solomon said. “The good thing about Mykele is he’s winning to teach someone else. He’s got that concept of teaching someone else, and that makes you a better student when you can teach other kids.”
Sanders laughed and said he can only hope to be half as good as his mother, a 1985 graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she was a four-time national collegiate champion, USA Indoor National Champion, eight-time All American and world record-holder.
As a high school student, Young made the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team as a 100-meter hurdler. She also broke the world indoor record for 55-meter hurdles and was named Sports Illustrated’s National High School Athlete of the Year.
“That’s what I like to think that’s what I have,” Sanders said about his family’s speedy genes. “That’s why I tease her all the time and say, ‘I’ve got a little bit more,’ but she may have a lot more, actually.”
* Salesianum’s Liam Magerr overtook Newark’s Ken Fontal late in a thrilling Division I 4×800 relay as Sallies rallied for the victory by 2.02 seconds Friday.
* Joseph Casini, Brian Ruane and Ryan Hughes combined with Magerr for a winning time of 7:58.07 for Salesianum, which had 45 team points and led Dover (27) and Cape Henlopen (25) after the first day of the meet, which included five finals in each division.
* Kieran Tuntivate of Charter School of Wilmington overtook Salesianum’s Patrick Hally and won with a time of 9:35.62 to capture the 3,200 run in the only other Division I final contested on the track.
* Milford’s Ryan Thomas placed first in the long jump, St. Mark’s Markquise Norman captured the shot put and Dover’s Kenyal Stevenson won gold in the high jump.
* Jack Hagood and Stephen Garrett finished first and second, respectively, for Tatnall in the 3,200-meter run to key the Hornets’ hot start in Division II boys action.
* Tatnall led D-II after Friday’s five finals with a team score of 50 points, followed by Caravel (34.50) and Hodgson (18).
* Archmere’s 4×800 relay team of Colton Takata, John Mascioli, Evan Guerin and Will McCarthy set a Division II record with a blistering time of 8:04.49.
* Wilmington Christian’s Nathan Hickman won the high jump, Caravel’s Matthew Boylan finished first in the shot put and Laurel’s Ben Miller captured the long jump.