- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
Behind the friendly face that greets grocery store shoppers in the checkout line is a competitive streak that has vaulted Halifax County High School track standout Marcus Bowman to new heights this season in his chosen sport. His indoor track career already reached one milestone recently at the Western Valley District Indoor Track Championships, where Bowman and his teammates charged from behind to tie Patrick Henry for the district title.
It reached another milestone Saturday, when Bowman qualified for the Virginia Group AAA State Indoor Track & Field Championship Meet with a fifth-place effort in the 55-meter hurdles at the Northwest Region meet.
Bowman was one of 29 Comets’ athletes who qualified for the Northwest Region Track Championships, many like Bowman in several events.
The Comets’ senior qualified for the 300-meter dash, 55-meter hurdles, triple jump and the 4x400-meter relay team at the regionals.
He qualified for regionals in the 55 hurdles and 4x400 relay team in last year’s indoor season.
Bowman has balanced academics and athletics for the better part of six years and academics, athletics and part-time work for the past two years.
He competed in track for two years at the middle school level, and he has been a member of the high school track team for four years.
Bowman has held down a part-time job the past two years while competing in track and maintaining a high grade point average, something that’s hard to do, he admitted.
“It’s hard balancing athletics, schoolwork and a part time job, but my mother taught me to be focused and told me school comes first, then track and then my job,” explained Bowman.
“I get good grades so I can run track. It keeps me motivated to do better in school,” said Bowman, who has been interested in track since he was young.
“I was always running around, and when I got to middle school I was excited to run track.”
Bowman began his middle school track career running the 800, but soon decided his strong suit was shorter distances.
He later decided that hurdles and jumping events were his forte’, but he has competed in various events in high school, including the 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 55 hurdles, 300, 200, 400, long jump and triple jump.
At first glance, the hurdles can appear intimidating for some athletes, but not for Bowman.
“It doesn’t intimidate me, it came easily to me, and I don’t know why,” Bowman explained.
“I watched someone else do it and thought to myself I could do this.
“I went ahead and did it, and as time wore on my technique got better and better.”
Last year’s outdoor track season saw Bowman qualify for the state meet in both the 110 and 300 hurdles, and that experience gave him confidence entering this senior year.
His goal coming into this year had been not only to qualify for the state meet, but also to net a top-three finish in his events once he gets there, particularly the 55 hurdles.
Bowman will attend George Mason University next year, and his experience running track has helped his focus in other areas, including academics.
“I think I want to run track at George Mason, but I haven’t decided yet,” Bowman said, adding the competition has only made him better in his chosen sport.
“When I race different people and see how determined they are, it makes me want to do better and work harder and harder each time so I can beat them,” he pointed out.
“Track helps me focus, and it keeps my mind together so I don’t follow the wrong path.”
First-year Comets’ track coach Jerry McCoy noted Bowman’s leadership has meant a lot to the team this year.
“He is a highly talented and athletic individual who really leads by example,” said McCoy.
“He is always working hard in practice and trying to get the team in the right position to be successful.
“He is a vocal leader when he has to be, but he generally lets his actions speak for themselves and tries to be a leader on the team.”
Bowman has taken some of the younger athletes under his wing and has been very patient working with them and encouraging them, McCoy added.
“After we won at the district meet, Marcus walked up to me and asked if he could hold the trophy, to which I replied, ‘Of course, you guys earned it.’
“He looked at it and said, ‘I’ve been waiting to hold this for a while.’”
“I hope the best for him at which ever school he chooses to attend in his future,” McCoy added.
“I hope he feels that he learned some life-long lessons this season being part of this team.
“Something I always say to the team is, ‘If you work hard all the time and take advantage of every opportunity, you can make your own luck and good things will happen to you.’”