Kellis junior Brandon McGuire became a surprising and reluctant focal point of the state track championships Saturday at Mesa Community College.
Locked in a duel with Phoenix Camelback senior Anthony Stennis for the Division II 110-meter hurdles title, McGuire was losing ground late. Then Stennis banged into the final hurdle and banged into McGuire.
The impact of their collision sent McGuire tumbling to the track, but not before he crossed the finish line first in 14.29 to Stennis’ 14.31.
“It was stressful. I came out really well but toward the end I kind of messed up the last few hurdles and I saw (Stennis) him catch up. I thought, ‘I’m going to have to come off the hurdle faster than him,’ which I did because his last hurdle was worse than mine. That’s probably why I won, because he was off balance,” McGuire said.
Photos and video of the impact were a hit on the Twitter-verse Saturday.
“Such an embarrassing video,” McGuire said.
“It’s a great video,” Kellis hurdles coach Simeon Cheatham said. “If you had lost, it’d be stupid.”
McGuire is most comfortable in the 300-meter hurdles and was more confident in that event, even though Stennis was the defending champ. When Stennis hit a hurdle early, McGuire said he the race was his to lose.
This time the junior won in a blazing 37.58, nearly a full second faster than Marana Mountain View senior runner up Emmanual Doe (38.52).
McGuire’s double announced his arrival to those who weren’t paying attention. Which is understandable, since he, Cheatham and Kellis track coach Christopher Hunt weren’t at the school last spring.
McGuire arrived in the summer from Pike High School in Indianapolis. Hunt coached at Avondale Agua Fria for six years and worked with Cheatham.
Hunt talked to McGuire in math class and saw how fast he was during football season. Then he looked at his Indiana times and sixth-place finish in the 300 as a sophomore.
“He told me some stuff and you half believe it and you half don’t. I looked some stuff up on the Internet and saw what he had been able to do (in Indiana). Honestly the first call I made was to (Cheatham) because I realized he was going to need a really good hurdles coach and he’s the best hurdles coach I know,” Hunt said.
This relatively new partnership is undefeated. McGuire won every hurdles race he entered in Arizona and took down some big names along the way.
He blitzed Willow Canyon’s Grant Carpenter and Mesa Westwood sophomore James Smith at the HoHokam Invitational. McGuire edged Skyline senior Amarii Keyes in both hurdles distances at the Red Mountain Rampage.
“It’s easier to get into state. In Indiana you have to go through sectionals and regionals, so you can get knocked out easier,” McGuire said. “I’m not going to lie, every meet was easy up until state. Except Red Mountain where I almost lost.”
Now the goal is going national.
Hunt said it looks like McGuire will compete at the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic June 2-4 in Albuquerque, N.M. He will run for Cheatham’s Spike Up club in the summer.
Summer objectives include the national top five in the 300 and a berth in the New Balance nationals.
Hunt said Kellis is putting together paperwork for the 2017 Arcadia (Calif.) Invitational. McGuire has early interest from ASU, Florida and Houston.
”The main thing for Brandon right now is I’d like for him to have several track offers and then he can basically choose where he wants to go,” Hunt said.
Cheatham said Tuesday he enjoys the charismatic, funny kid — busy mimicking a rapper over the Kellis track PA — but said McGuire knows when to be serious.
“It’s all up to Brandon and if he continues to work. He’s going to run the 400 meter hurdles in club, which will be good for him going into next year,” Cheatham said. “The biggest concept that I try to tell Brandon, especially with the 300 hurdles is, ‘run it like it’s a 200.’ So him doing the 400 hurdles during club will build his 300 next year. I actually have a goal in mind of him breaking the state record next year.”