Cherryville (Cherryville, N.C.) senior Trentavis Friday (pronounced Trent-TAY-viss) was today named the 2013-14 Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year. He has already begun summer classes at Florida State in Tallahassee. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound sprinter’s season-best time of 10.17 seconds in the 100-meter dash along with his 200 time of 20.33 ranked as the No. 1 performance among prep competitors in 2014 and, respectively, No. 6 and No. 7 in prep history. One of only five sprinters in history to rank among the 10-fastest prep performers in both the 100- and 200 events, Friday also won a national title in the 200 at this month’s New Balance Nationals Outdoor championships.
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Friday won three individual state championships this spring and anchored the winning 4×400-meter relay quartet at the North Carolina Class 1A state meet, leading Cherryville to a second-place finish as a team. Friday took gold in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.59 seconds, the 200-meter dash in 20.95 and the 400-meter run in 47.87. He also won the 60-meter dash and the 200 at the 2014 New Balance Nationals Indoor, notching the No. 7 time in prep history in the 60, and the No. 2 all-time clocking in the 200. He is one of only two prep sprinters ever to rank among the Top 10 in history in both 60 and 200, indoors.
We sat down with Friday to better understand how he outshined more than 580,000 high school boys track and field athletes nationwide to win the award.
Q: As a 10-year-old exactly nine years ago, you told your club coach you were going to the Olympic Games someday. You ever think about how much closer that childhood prediction is to reality?
A: Well, I did say that, but I still have a lot of work to do, so I don’t think about it much. I just work every day and hope to improve and being here at Florida State is part of that plan, so I’m headed in the right direction.
Q: You have a reputation for simply wanting to run the best you can and let the chips fall where they may. How do you keep from being overly focused on results?
A: I just stay humble. The biggest thing in my family and my track career is to stay disciplined and not put too much pressure on myself.
Q: You had an epic day in two very different races (the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash) earlier this year at NBNI. A lot has to go right to do what you did. What was different about that day?
A: It was just a normal day. I just got out of bed and tried to win a race. But it was a great, great day. It was my first my win on the national stage and it was after a disappointing loss the year before. It was probably the best day of my life other than today.
Q: Florida State associate head coach Ken Harnden has already anointed you one of the most versatile sprinters in the history of the Seminoles’ storied NCAA sprint program. You feeling the pressure of those expectations?
A: I am. When he was recruiting me, he told me all about the sprinters who’ve come before me here and I knew about a lot of them anyway. For him to have that faith in me is a huge confidence boost.
Q: What changed about your commitment before your senior high school season that got you into the weight room so much, and did that strength-training really make the difference it seems to have?
A: I had sit-down with my AAU coach (Valentino Sykes of the Gastonia Jaguars) and we talked about what it was going to take to get better. I really has paid off and I’m really ready to hit it hard here at FSU. I’m still pretty skinny, but it did the job.
Q: Before you moved to quaint, cozy Cherryville, you lived in a hardscrabble area of Gastonia where, by your own admission, you sometimes found yourself in ‘troubling situations.’ Do you ever think about how close you came to traveling down the wrong road?
A: Every day. My dad was the hardest on me. He always reminded that if you continue to do the right things, you’ll get somewhere you want to go. I never dreamed I’d end up at an institution like Florida State, but here I am.
Q: Is it going to be an adjustment to go from what you’ve called ‘small country town’ living in rural North Carolina to a campus of over 32,000 undergraduates in two months’ time?
A: It definitely will be. But I wouldn’t have committed here if I didn’t feel ready for it. My mindset was to find a great academic institution. That was a keystone for me. I can’t wait.
Q: The buzz in the collegiate track community is that you’re part of a “Fab Four” recruiting class that includes Gatorade Florida Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year Kendal Williams, Virginia’s Musta'qeem Williams (injured in 2014) and Gatorade AOY finalist Zyaire Clemes of New Jersey. You guys going to get T-shirts are something?
A: That’s funny. We all met each other two years ago and I’ve raced against Kendal. For all of us to be here now is amazing. But I’m not sure we need T-shirts.