- Cross Country
- Dance Team
McMinn Central track athlete Matt Harris expected to graduate this month from Central and then attend Tennessee Technology Center to learn a trade, but those plans have been altered. Harris will now attend Tennessee Wesleyan College after the school initiated a track program. Sports is often derided for allowing athletes to take shortcuts, but in this case, sports is giving Harris the chance to go to college. Harris said he would have gone to trade school and learned welding if TWC hadn't offered him the chance to compete in track.
"I am happy this opportunity came along," Harris said. "I am very excited about it. I think TWC having a track program will help a lot of people in this area. It's a college degree, which always looks better on a job application. Also, I can still go to trade school, learn a trade, and then major in business at Wesleyan. That way, I can own my own company."
Harris ran track his freshman year, but then had to quit running so he could work. He came back this year after two long years off. "I wish I could have run every year," Harris said. "I just had to work. But I was excited about being back. I have always loved running."
Harris runs the 400, 800 and the 1600 meter events, but said the 400 is his favorite, even though it's one of the harder events. "In the 400, you basically have to sprint the whole race," Harris said. "In the 800 and 1600, you have to pace yourself. The 100 is over so fast, but the 400, even though it's longer than the 100, you still have to sprint. You can't pace yourself like in the longer races. I like it because it challenges you."
Central Coach Brent Masingale said Harris has a strong work ethic and does whatever the team needs him to do. "Matt works hard and does whatever you ask him to do," Masingale said. "We asked him to do a few sprints this year and he was one of our fastest sprinters. He just works hard and competes to the best of his ability."
TWC Coach Shawn Jakubowski said Harris has a lot of potential, especially considering the fact that he has only two years of high school track experience. "When I went to see him run, I got excited because I knew he missed two years and he still ran well," Jakubowski said. "I think he has a lot of room for improvement and will only get better. We are glad to have him."
Masingale said he believes Wesleyan starting a track program will allow a lot of area track athletes who want to stay home to have an opportunity to attend college. In this case, it changed Harris's plans for the better.