After not making his seventh-grade basketball team, Brandon Coombs had to look for a new sport to try in eighth grade.
Basketball’s loss soon became track’s gain. By the time the new Greenbrier graduate was done, he had walked away with school records in the 400-meter, 800, 1600, 4x400 relay, 4x800 relay and distance-medley relay.
“I think I have a natural ability for track,” said Coombs, who also ran cross country all four years at Greenbrier. “I just started winning and I stuck with it. I decided to go for distance because I didn’t think I had that much speed. I just liked it.”
That natural ability showed itself earlier in the year when he asked Greenbrier track coach Kati Smallwood to let him run the 400. He ran it once, breaking the school record in the process.
Going out on top, Coombs set school records in the 800 and 1600 at the 2012 Class AAAA state track meet, finishing first and second, respectively.
“He’s had his sights set on that 800 for a couple of years,” said Smallwood. “That was his goal for this year, to take the gold.”
For his second-place finish in the mile (1600) at the state meet, Coombs gave credit to an unlikely source.
“I want to thank (Lakeside’s) Sid Vaughn for pushing me in the mile,” said Coombs, who finished one spot ahead of Vaughn by less than a second. “He excels at two miles, I excel at the 800, but we’re always neck-and-neck in the mile.”
Coombs is emphatic that he will run track in college, and thus far has no lack of suitors.
“Before state, I was interested in Auburn University, the University of Alabama and Kennesaw,” said Coombs. “After state, the UGA coach has called me, I’ve sent my transcript over to the University of Tennessee, who’s also interested, Alabama State, Coastal Carolina and South Carolina.”
While he leaves with records, he now passes the baton to his brother Warren.
“He came out here and ended up being the second or third fastest on the team,” Coombs said. “They put him on the 4x100 (relay) first leg... and they made it all the way to state. He was really excited he made it to state as a freshman. I never got to do that, so I’m really proud of him.”
And Warren will have had the benefit of his brother’s experience.
“They don’t fight like brothers normally do, but I think he’s trying to help his brother learn how to work hard and make that pay off for him,” Smallwood said.
With high school over, the biggest decision for Coombs is where to go to college and get ready for that.
“I’ll basically be the new kid all over again,” Coombs said. “I’m excited but a little nervous about it. I think I’ll get through it. I just need to adjust to college life.”