The Making Of The Next Sprint Boss: Terrell King

The final time in the 100m does not tell the real story of Terrell King...


11.25 wasn't even the best time of the summer for King. The soon to be Urbana HS IL speedster had run 11.04 during one competition in July. This is when his coach Bob Jelks of the Decatur Dominators knew he would be special. "All we are worried about is navigating the Corona [virus] and getting to nationals," he once said.

King first got on the track and field national map as a seventh-grader with the Vipers Track Club. It was with that group that he got a taste of high-level competition. But then came COVID-19 that put a world wild damper on everything for much of 2020. However, when things began to improve statewide in terms of social interaction, the 14-year old King along with some other talented youngsters, joined the Jelks training group. There are some who consider Jelks a bitter opportunist because he is drawn to kids who are willing to work to succeed. Well, Jelks is a former IHSA all-time record holder in the 200m and an All-American at the University of Nebraska.

Fast-forwarding to Orlando, Florida, the concern of the virus was paramount. There was a discussion of attending the AAU Nationals. Jelks indicated that he consulted many voices including that of the athletes, parents, and most importantly, his wife. So the stage was set to tangle in Satelite Beach, Florida where the actual championship location.

If there was a worry for King, it was a kid by the name of Malachi James of New Jersey. James happens to be the #1 14-year-old sprinter this term. With only a semi-final instead of three rounds to make the final, it was important to stay completely focused. Jelks is masterful in making sure his athletes are prepared physically and mentally for the key battles.

James advanced to the finals in the 100m and 200m as expected. Likewise, King moved on and was ready to battle. "Malachi is a problem," Jelks said after the prelims.

James scratched the 200m whereas King took third in a personal best wind-legal 22.97. 

The big battle would not occur in the 100m as James once again scratched due to a sore back. King would not blow the opportunity of his young track and field life as he bolted from the starting blocks even from the field and stretched himself out midway through the race and hit paydirt as a national champion! For King, it was a thrilling finish in which he promised his coach that he would win the title. And it was a positive light at the end of a long dark tunnel.