Braxton McMillion (L) and Samuel Thomas (R)
You may assume that the two top competitors at the McKinley Invitational, Horace Mann Middle’s Samuel Thomas, 14, and Winfield Middle’s Braxton McMillion, 13, would be bitter rivals. You would be wrong to think that.
“We have been friends since 2007 when I started running for the Capital City Striders,” said McMillion. “On the track we are fierce rivals, but we try to race each other hard and clean. We root for each other and pat each other on the back.”
“They have great respect for each other and will be racing hard for the next five years,” said Thomas’ dad.
The two runners, both seventh graders, on Friday at Laidley Field ran away from the competition, with two different styles of running. Thomas is more of an 800- to 1600-meter specialist, though he still excels at the 3200 meter run. His strength is his speed or anaerobic capacity. Sam likes to use his speed to lead from the gun, while McMillion is more of a 1600- to 3200-meter specialist. His strength is his endurance or aerobic capacity. Braxton likes to run more of an even paced race from start to finish.
“I love cross country because you get to run different terrains such as hills, trails, and even through creeks. On a track I feel like a hamster,” said McMillion.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Thomas is more the track runner, while McMillion is more the cross country runner.
Both runners now have new PRs for 2012 track season; Thomas won their first meeting in the 3200-meter run in a time of 10:37, while being pushed by McMillion who ran a 10:49. In the 1600-meter run, Thomas ran an amazing time of 4:59.26 and McMillion bettered last year’s PR by running 5:11.96.
McMillion’s quest for the title hasn’t stopped with his recent loss. I keep a quote over my bed that says, "Losing puts things in perspective. If you win all the time, it would be easy to believe nobody could ever beat you. Losing reminds me there's going to be somebody out there who's going to pop onto the scene one day just like I did and start winning."
“Sam and I want to push each other to run our best. Neither runner wants to lose, but after a race, we exchange high-fives and encourage each other.”
The two runners have a healthy rivalry that is built on mutual respect.
Their next head-to-head match-up is at the KVT & FOA Invitational on Wednesday, March 28that Laidley Field. Their first race, the 3000-meter run, starts at 5:00 pm.
Sam Thomas Personal Bests:
800 meter run: 2:15
1600 meter run: 4:59.26
3200 meter run: 10:37.00
Braxton McMillion Personal Bests:
800 meter run: 2:18
1600 meter run: 5:11.96
3200 meter run: 10:49.83