Hammonds fully expects to contend in hurdles races

Reynolds senior Gabriel Hammonds (second from right) won both hurdles events at the Central Piedmont 4-A Conference track and field championships last week.

Hammonds fully expects to contend in hurdles races
May 12
08:45 2016

Photo by Craig T. Greenlee



Reynolds hurdler Gabriel Hammonds could be a surprise factor in these final weeks of high school track and field. The 6-2, 195-pound senior played outside linebacker on the football team last fall. During the spring, he’s shown that he’s more than capable of posting top-four finishes in his specialty events at the Midwest 4-A Regional meet on Saturday.

Hammonds has yet to crack the top five in the NCRunners Class 4-A state rankings. Time-wise, he’s in that next tier. In recent weeks, though, he has lowered his previous best times in the 110-meter high hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. Entering the regionals, he’s seventh in the 300 hurdles (39.86 seconds) rankings and 12th in the highs (14.88).

“Gabe is as focused and as poised as ever,” said coach Charlton Rolle. “He shouldn’t have any problems making it out of regionals. If he hits his peak, according to how our practices are set up, he could actually surprise himself and a lot of people at the state championships.”

By necessity, Hammonds has had to be a quick-study. With this being only his second year of hurdling, there was so much for him to absorb about the technical aspects of the event. The difference between where he is now in his development compared to a year ago, he explained, is huge.

“Now, I’m a lot more powerful and a lot more experienced than when I first came out,” said Hammonds, who won both hurdles races at the Central Piedmont Conference track championships last week. “I’m very proud of where I am right now. But I’m also expecting a lot more of myself before this season comes to an end.”

Of the two hurdles events, the 300 gives Hammonds the best shot at earning a medal at the state meet. With the exception of top-ranked Brent Carroll of Charlotte Berry (37.89), six of the state’s top seven are separated by only 1.36 seconds.

Although he posted his fastest-ever clocking at the CPC championships, Rolle isn’t convinced that it was the best that Hammonds is capable of. In that race, Hammonds seized the lead from start, but had to hold off a late charge from Parkland’s Trequan Barnes to secure the victory.

“Even with him not running the first half of the race as strong as he usually does, he was able to kick it in that last 100 meters and maintain,” said Rolle. “And even then, he still dropped a personal best time. So, that’s kind of scary to see what he can actually do when he puts the entire race together.”

Hammonds arrived at Reynolds two years ago as a junior after his family moved to North Carolina from Daytona Beach, Fla. Back then, he split time between playing football and playing soccer. Hammonds, who has a 3.2 grade-point average, was introduced to the 300 hurdles as a sophomore, but he never competed. When he joined the track team at RJR, Hammonds added the high hurdles to his list of events to compete in.

Even though he was a multi-sport athlete in high school, Hammonds will stick strictly to track for college. At this point, he’s hoping to sign with N.C. State or N.C. A&T. Purdue is also a possibility.

“With the season coming to a close, my main goals are to run 14 (in the high hurdles) and get a college scholarship for track,” said Hammonds, who plans to major in physical therapy or kinesiology. “To do that, I have to keep working like I’ve been doing and stay humble. There are always parts of my race that need fixing. I just want to thank my coaches (Charlton Rolle and Derrick Speas) for pushing me and never giving up on me.”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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