For inspiration going forward, Greg Sholars II looks to the past.
"I got last in the 400 finals my freshman year (at district) and it definitely motivated me," the Paschal High senior sprinter said. "The first thing I said when I walked off the track, 'One day that's going to be me on top.'"
He's not just talking about track. Sholars is working hard to be the best at life.
Not only has he qualified for the University Interscholastic League State Track and Field Meet in two events, which will be held at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin on Friday and Saturday, but he is going to attend Princeton starting in the fall to study mechanical and space engineering.
"My dad says your legs will run out before your brain," Sholars said with a chuckle.
"Greg is a very focused student-athlete. His parents told me Greg's decision to attend Princeton was based on his desire to be a student who runs track as opposed to being an athlete who attends classes," Paschal head track coach Michael Holcomb said. "This says a lot about Greg and his future. Whatever path Greg takes, his drive for excellence will always put him on top."
Sholars won District 4-6A in the 200, followed by area and regional victories. He also won regionals in the 100 after runner-up finishes in district and area, qualifying him for this weekend's Class 6A State meet in both events.
Sholars, who is making his first appearance at the state meet, will run both races Saturday evening.
"The best word I can use to describe this is 'validation,'" Sholars said. "I feel my hard work was validated. But there's more work to be done, and I've been trying to stay focused."
Sholars has a little trick for that also.
"One of the best things is surrounding myself with others who have experience staying focused in this situation," he said. "Some have been here since their sophomore year, so it's been there, done that for them. Seeing that refocuses me and keeps me in perspective."
Former Paschal boys coach Craig Hardin, now at Haslet Eaton, said seeing Sholars achieve his dream of reaching state was also a thrill for him this season.
"I was very excited to see Greg win the 100 and the 200 at regionals. That is a classic sprinter's double, and to do it at the 6A level in that region says all you need to know about Greg," Hardin said. "It was exciting to watch Greg develop, not only for the two years I coached him, but following him this year as well. If I chose one word to describe him, I would pick 'determination.'
"About halfway through last season we set the 100-200 double as his goal. He has been focused on that since, and the results bear witness to his commitment and effort."
Sholars began high school as a 400 runner. He reached the regional finals in the event as a sophomore. But he then shifted his focus to the even faster events, reaching the regional finals in both the 100 and 200 as a junior.
"I was fairly confident he’d be successful in the 200. You saw that his sophomore year," Hardin said. "What’s been really neat to watch is his embracing the strength training required to get his top end speed for the 100 where it is today."
Ironically, no one really knows where his top speed is in the 100 today. Though he won the event at the 6A Region I Meet, a clock malfunction didn't register times for any of the runners.
His season-best time, according to Athletic.net, is 10.57 seconds at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, held on the same track on which he'll be running this weekend. However, Holcomb said he believes Sholars ran a much faster time at regionals.
"His regional time had to be faster. I think he is now in the low 10.40s or high 10.30s," Holcomb said. "He matches up well with the other state qualifiers."
Sholars said he is proud to be following in the footsteps of his father, Greg Sholars senior, who was a sprinter standout at TCU in the 1980s. While the younger Sholars did not choose to be a Horned Frog like dad (though he gave it serious consideration), he's running in college - sprinting, in fact.
"That's something I consider a lot, and I'm very proud of it," Sholars said. "He was an elite sprinter, but I felt no pressure to match him. I've lived with this man my whole life, and he's never put pressure on me. But he is my biggest fan, and I treasure his advice."
Hardin said he owes Sholars a debt of gratitude and looks forward to watching him continue to succeed beyond Paschal.
"Coaching Greg, along with Alexandra Byrnes (2016 state silver medalist in the girls 800, currently running at Arkansas), really made those two years at Paschal track and field very special for me. Their work ethic and positive attitude helped develop the program and made for a very rewarding coaching experience for me," he said.
"I can’t wait to see what he does this weekend and then as he continues on at Princeton."