Antwan Hughes Jr. making his mark on the field and the track

Antwan Hughes Jr. making his mark on the  field and the track
July 13
14:01 2022

By Timothy Ramsey

The Chronicle

Everyone has heard the old saying that you can’t teach speed. For Antwan Hughes Jr., he has utilized his speed on the football field and the track. The rising junior for the Parkland Mustangs is track standout and plans to acheive more goals over the next two years for the Mustangs.

Injuries have derailed Hughes’ plans on the football field thus far, but he has dazzled on the track, dropping some of the best times in the state competing against runners two years his elder.  

“I had a lot of goals that I wanted to accomplish, because the COVID year, which was my freshman year, I hurt my hamstring and my groin at the same time. Coming off of that, I just had a lot that I wanted to do because I know that I could have done more my freshman year, but I was hurt so I couldn’t really show myself. I had all that mentality coming into my sophomore year and I just knew that I could be on top, so I have just been working toward that.”

Hughes broke his collarbone the first football game of the season, so he was not able to display his skills on the field much this season, which was a disappointment for him.  

“I was a little bit disappointed because I already knew that I hurt myself freshman year during track season and then football season came and I hurt myself again, so that was tough,” he said. 

Because he lost almost an entire season on the field and most of the previous track season, Hughes was determined to stay healthy for track season this year and really showcase his talents.

“My thoughts really were to just drop my times and just get better because my times that I had were not good at all,” he said about his season.

Hughes not only dropped his times; he has put up some of the best times in the state this outdoor track season. He has set personal records in the 100-meter dash at 10.54 seconds and in the 200-meter dash with 21.73 seconds this season. He finished third in the state championship track and field meet last month.

“I wanted to prove that I was meant to be there because in the prelim race, I didn’t run well at all. Me and my dad talked and he told me that I needed to get out of the blocks and drive and my momentum would carry me through and I did that in the finals, and I got third,” he said about the state championship meet.

Getting back out on the football field is a high priority for Hughes. His goal is to put on a few pounds to protect himself from the hits he will take on the field. He says the Mustangs had a down season last year and he is eager to get out there and contribute at the wide receiver position.

“I am more comfortable in the slot position and I feel like we will have a good season because I am playing where I need to play this year,” he said about football season. “When you are playing the slot position, you are on your own, you’re on an island, so you just do what you have to do to get in that box.”

Hughes loves both football and track. Because of his smaller stature, his path will likely take him the way of track, but he is not giving up hope of playing football on the next level either.

“I was more dedicated to football at first, but track is what it is right now for me,” he said.  

Hughes picked up the sport of track because many of the people in his family ran track as youths. He realized that he was an elite track athlete at a young age but prefers to stay humble by knowing that there is always someone out there faster than you. That mentality keeps Hughes hungry and striving for more.

Antwan Hughes Sr., Hughes Jr.’s dad, is the head track and field coach for Parkland High School. Hughes says he enjoys having his father as his head coach because his father and the rest of the staff will push him to reach his full potential.

“It’s not bad, but at the same time it’s not great,” Hughes says jokingly. “At practice, my dad is hard on me and I have never really experienced anyone else as my coach, so I can’t really tell you the pros and cons on that.”

Hughes Sr. was an elite track and field athlete in his day. He hoped his son would follow in his footsteps and is elated to see how much success his son has had so far. Hughes admits there is more work to be done to get better.

Hughes Sr. says he is leaning toward track as the sport for his son because of his smaller stature. He says they will revisit things and could possibly play both if Hughes Jr. is able to gain some weight and keep in on. Hughes Sr. feels his son has the potential to leave a good legacy with the Mustang track and field program.

“Like I tell all the kids, you have to stay humble and do the small things. You can’t forget about things that you did that got you running really fast,” Hughes Sr. said. “If you keep doing all the things you are supposed to do, the sky is the limit for him. I would say he has a chance to run maybe 10.2 or high 21 in the 200. He just has to get stronger and keep working hard.”

As the head coach of the track team, Hughes Sr. says it’s not difficult to separate the roles of father and coach. He admits that he is harder on Hughes Jr. than he is on the other athletes, so they know he is not showing any favoritism toward his son.  

With two more years of prep sports remaining, Hughes Jr. has plenty of time to solidify his name in the record books of not only Parkland High School, but also Forsyth County. If he stays on this trajectory, he will have his pick of colleges to attend when he graduates high school.  

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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