Taking a year off from track didn’t slow Augusta Christian junior Bryson Ashmore – he won the South Carolina Independent School Class AAA title in the 110 meter hurdles May 4.
After sitting out his sophomore year to work for his father, Ashmore quickly made his mark upon his return.
“He had done it his freshman year a little bit, but he came out this year and I had him sprinting and he said, ‘Coach, I want to do hurdles,’ ” said track coach and assistant football coach Charles Cooper. “I’m not going to turn down someone who wants to do the hurdles. And he actually came out and won the first meet he ran at, and I was shocked.”
Conditions were less than optimal at the championship, but Ashmore stuck to his routine and won the race.
“Right when he said ‘Runners to your marks,’ the wind starting blowing in all of our faces,” he said. “I turned to the guy on my left and it was like, this is going to be terrible. I ran a 16.7, which is a second slower than my personal record. So it was pretty terrible.”
His feat is that much more impressive considering Augusta Christian doesn’t have a track.
“The only time I really actually practiced hurdles on an actual track was at Augusta Prep, and even then it’s just me and Grant (Newman),” Ashmore said.
The hurdles won’t be the only title Ashmore will have to defend – he was a defensive back on the Lions’ 13-0 state championship-winning football team, contributing 72 tackles with four interceptions, and he was named 2012 All-County first team defense.
“Drop my time next year and I’ll be fine because I don’t think anybody coming in will beat me, because I know I already beat everybody else,” Ashmore said. “The problem is with football, you’ve got to get all these new guys ready and you’ve just got to win.”
Winning the state title in football was the more satisfying of the titles for Ashmore, who started playing rec football when he was 9 years old.
“It was because it was a team, Ashmore said. “Football’s just a bigger sport than track. Another reason is because football in itself is a lot harder to win a state championship, there’s more competition. A lot more can go wrong during football throughout the entire season than one 16-second race on the track.”
Playing football helped Ashmore in track, and he should see the benefits of running track on the football field for his senior season.
“This year, I know going into this football season he’s going to play with a lot of confidence,” said Cooper. “He ended last year on a strong note football-wise, which carried over to track, and winning a state championship can only boost your confidence even more.”
Ashmore credited Cooper for helping his development.
“Whenever you run track under coach Cooper, regardless of what events you run, you will get faster and so hopefully running track will increase my speed for football,” Ashmore said. “I know during football it helped with hurdles more than any other event just because there’s more people to run around and tackle, and you have to keep your feet moving, so I think it coincides with hurdles really well.”