WEDDINGTON – Emerson Douds was always the fastest player on his youth football team, so he decided to give track a try when he enrolled at Weddington Middle School
It was a good decision.
Douds eventually gave up football for track. The Weddington junior speedster is now one of the top sprinters not only in North Carolina but also in the country,
Last month, Douds recorded second-place finishes in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes and was part of Weddington’s fourth-place 4×400 relay team as the Warriors won the Class 3A outdoor track and field championships for the second year in a row.
For his efforts, Douds is the Union County Weekly Boys’ Track Athlete of the Year.
Douds ran 10.94 seconds in the 100 at state, and he had a personal best 10.71 at a meet a home in April. Douds had a 21.51 in the 200 at state, and he clocked a personal best 47.57 in the 400 last month at state. His personal best in the 200 is 21.23.
“I was always the fastest player on the football team, so I decided to give track a go,” Douds said. “Eighth grade, freshman year, I decided that track is my main sport now. I stopped playing football to solely focus on track, and it was a good decision.”
Since Douds started running track as a freshman, he has been a part of four state championship teams at Weddington – two outdoor and two indoor. And for Douds, the team comes first.
“I just wanted to score as many points as I could for the team,” Douds said. “We knew it was going to be close. I was happy to contribute.”
Weddington track and field Coach Rick Spencer said Douds works hard on the track and in the classroom. He also is a team player.
“I mentioned this the other day at our track banquet,” said Spencer. “We relied on Emerson and Kyle Durham and both of them ran four events. They could have been selfish and said, ‘put me in just one’ so they could shine and run some great time. But they did it for the team, and we needed those points.”
Spencer said Douds has improved in the sprint races each year and that the junior has a high ceiling.
“Emerson had some incredible times in the 400 this spring,” Spencer said. “I always thought the 400 was his thing, but he showed a lot of improvement in the 100 and 200 this year, as well.”
As a sophomore, Douds finished second in the 400 at the state meet and third in the 200. He claimed an individual state championship in February when he won the 300-meter dash at the state indoor meet with a personal best 34.52.
Douds is already getting interest from a number of Division I track programs. He said that academics will play a big role in his college choice.
“Mainly, Harvard, Princeton, Penn, schools like that,” Douds said.
With Douds returning for his final high school season, Weddington will again be in the running for indoor and outdoor track state championships.
“When we start a season, our goal is to win the state title, cross country or track,” Spencer said. “That doesn’t come by accident. It comes through the hard work that we put in. It’s really the dedication of the athletes that makes it possible.”