There are times in life when opportunities come along and there is only time to react, then there are slow building opportunities like the one unfolding in front of Fort Worth Trimble Tech hurdler/sprinter Darien Tennon this weekend.
Tennon owns the top times in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and the third fastest 100-meter dash time heading into the Class 4A Region I track meet Friday and Saturday in Abilene. A top-two finish in any earns Tennon a spot in the UIL state meet May 10-11 in Austin.
The senior is favored to become the first male Trimble Tech athlete to qualify for state since 1994. A good showing at regionals and state will also go a long way toward more scholarship offers. Tennon has already drawn interest from Ohio State, Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, and he has received an offer from Texas Tech, where he’s visiting on Sunday.
“Going to state is a big goal for me; it’s been so long that I want to bring the tradition back to Trimble Tech and have somebody go to state again,” Tennon said. “I feel like if I improve my time even more I’m pretty sure more schools will be calling, so there’s a lot riding on these next couple of weeks.”
Tennon rededicated himself in the off-season to a stricter workout regimen and cut out junk food and sugar from his diet. He’s also quick to credit first-year Trimble Tech coach Clayton Brookins for his growth.
Brookins, who was one of the last Trimble Tech athletes to compete at state in 1994 before becoming an All-American at TCU, quickly won Tennon’s trust.
“I kind of questioned some of the stuff at first but he’d say I would run a certain time by an exact certain day and it ended up happening, so I didn’t really have anything to go against because he’s always right,” Tennon said. “I started seeing the results; it started panning out.”
After two seasons as an assistant coach at Arlington Sam Houston, Brookins knew he wanted to branch out and become a head coach somewhere. He saw potential in Tennon, and besides, Trimble Tech is home.
After being hired, Brookins’ first task was to change Tennon’s approach toward track. Tennon, who also plays football, treated track as a secondary sport, just something to do in the spring, but Brooks challenged him.
“Since the last football game back the second week of November, we started track practice that Monday and he has not missed a single day,” Brookins said. “I told him what he puts in the bank he’s going to get out, and of course he’s a phenomenal athlete. If he wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have made the move.”
Brookins also reminds Tennon that his coach still owns the school records in both hurdle events. But coach expects student to break both records this weekend.
Tennon’s exploits in the hurdles were expected, but his success in the 100 happened almost by accident.
The TCU Invitational didn’t have a 300 hurdle event, so as an afterthought, Brookins entered Tennon in the 100 for the first time in his high school career and he ran a 10.80. Two weeks later at the Texas Relays he ran a 10.66.
“I knew that was the fastest time in the district and one of the top times in the state and he’s a hurdler so I said ‘hold on, I may have something here,’ ” Brookins said. “So I pulled him off the 4x400 relay teams and entered him in the 100, 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles in district and by golly he won all three of them.”
According to Brookins and several longtime Fort Worth track coaches, Tennon can become only the second athlete in the school district’s history to qualify for state in all three events. Charles Whigham of Dunbar accomplished the feat in the 1970s.
“He wants to do it so we’re going to give it a shot and it’s going to be a good shot,” Brookins said.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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