If you haven't heard of Jaron Flournoy yet, then take heed. The Westland John Glenn senior has never won a state title in Michigan, but burst onto the national radar this indoor season with nation-leading times of 6.78 for 60m (now US #2) and 47.35 for 400m. He is also ranked US #5 in the 200m this season with his 21.66 clocking. MileSplit caught up with Flournoy, who trains with Rad Greaves and the Michigan All-Stars Track Club, while the club was en route to the Armory Track Invitational in New York. Flournoy will race a tough field in the Boys Invitational 300m, where the National Record of 33.05 has been pegged to topple this weekend.
Congratulations on your nation-leading times! With top times in the 60m, 200m and 400m, you have an impressive range. Which event do you enjoy most and which do you find the most challenging? Why?
It isn't so much that I feel one is more challenging than the another, or that I dislike one more than another, it's more about being properly prepared. For example, the 60 can be every bit if not more challenging than the 400 because there's less room for error, and the 400 gets rough, physically towards the end of the race. This is probably why I like the 200m dash so much. Now days I answer this question from a training standpoint, I guess like my Coach would look at it. What I mean is that it's tough to run a good 60 when you been training for 400 stuff, and he has opened my eyes to differences in training methods, and now I'm aware of the changes my body makes from these methods. I have also learned how often you can and can't do stuff that counts on the Central Nervous System. I used to think those words were real technical and never really put much thought into what they meant, now I know and fully feel what they mean.
You are racing a loaded field in the Boys Invitational 300m at the Armory Track Invitational on Saturday. How are you preparing for this race?
My preparation for this race is really not much different than any other in most ways, only a few differences for the most part.
1)Main difference is the travel - hours in a car, but my Coach (Rad Greaves of Michigan All-Stars) is pretty detailed, he already has the rest stops mapped out that we will be stretching out and doing light warm-ups in order to keep me loose.
2)Timing of this race - because of my Coach's Periodization schedule and us not planning for this meet in the beginning of the season, it's not exactly the best time for the best results, but it will only make us that much stronger for the end of the season when it counts.
3)Track itself - having never ran on a banked track before it will take a moment to get used to but I think it will be fun, and I'm just excited at the opportunity to be racing in this atmosphere.
What is your race plan?
Nothing special, just continue to listen to my Coach. On race day that usually means = "Focus on my Strengths, while my Weakness get Stronger".
What do you think you can do?
My Coach has told me that I'm capable of running sub 33's right now, providing I take my time getting used to the banked track. So that will be my First goal, which will then take care of my Second goal as well.
Plus my mom will be here for extra motivation, and seeing as she was one of fastest girls from our State while growing up she knows a thing or two about the sport and keeps a watchful eye on me, so I want to do my best to make her and my grandmother watching back home proud of me.
After running many races unchallenged thus far this season, what will be the most difficult aspect of racing such a tough field?
Just because I haven't been challenged in races lately doesn't mean I haven't been challenged or am not used to it. I had to get used to real fast at practice. My teammates are one of the main reasons that I have been looking so good on race day for me. Actually earlier in the season my 60m training partner and teammate (Stephen Blunt) and I were ranked #1 and #2 in the Nation and he even beat me earlier in the month at a Michigan Indoor Track Series (MITS) Meet. And the same for my 400m training partner and teammate (Skyler Bowden) whom was ranked in the top 25 earlier in the season and beat me in the 400m in the first race of the year. There are even days at practice that my little 8th grade brother (James)whom is really starting to get fast is pushing me! My Team has taught me to welcome Challenges and the Rewards that come from them, which is why I'm so happy to be at this meet when I see this level of competition coming.
Have you ever raced at the Armory before? Have you been to New York before? How long do you plan to stay in the city and what (if any) tourist sights do you expect to see?
No and no.
From Thursday till the end of my race. As for the tourist sites, my Coach has told me that he normally takes the kids to the Empire State building and the Aircraft Carrier museum when we have sponsors help get the team here, but things have been really tight in the Detroit area, so we will just have to see what we can afford on our budget.
How do you like competing indoors compared to outdoor track?
Indoor is more exciting because of the crowd factor however, the actual running part is more fun on Outdoor track.
Tell us what it's like to train to run fast in the cold Michigan weather.
Well it's kind of cool in some ways because the training time is different than High School track. We don't get access to our training facilities until evening time so we get to come home and get our homework out of the way first, eat even take a nap if I have time. Than we have to go out in the cold, snowy, dark and clean the snow and ice off the car, warm it up the car and then drive 60miles-80miles round trip, depending on if it's a strength training or running night.
What is your biggest challenge?
Driving to get to practice in blizzard conditions!
What's the weirdest/funniest thing that's happened during a workout?
When Coach Rad looses it on my teammates for trying to get away with lifting too little during our strength training days or on our "Team Film" nights, when he sees someone messing up after they have been told million times about it, like relay exchanges!
Your mother was a high school track star. What are some of her personal bests?
Yes she was, 100m 11.4, 200m 23.6, 400m 57.11.
Was your father a track athlete?
No, he played football.
Do you have siblings who run track?
Younger 8th grade brother James who is getting fast, and my younger sisters Jada, Jordyn, Janelle, Janae.
You are also an accomplished running back. What are some of your football stats?
17 receptions for roughly 900 yards and 10 TDs.
What other sports did you play growing up and when did you start running track?
Soccer, Baseball, Basketball. Believe it or not, I started running with Coach Rad at age 9 for Griffin Sports back then. But then I got into the other more team oriented sports.
Is track or football your main sport?
Football used to be, now it's Track.
Where are you in the college recruitment process?
They way it works best for us during this time is that most colleges contact my Coach (email@example.com) and then he brings them to me and my Mom. For the most part, I'm really just focusing on this Indoor Season while briefly speaking with people from some schools.
Which sport will you play in college and what schools are you considering? Have you committed to a school?
Track for sure and I would really like to go to Oregon or LSU or Texas.
What are your goals for the rest of the season? Will we see you compete at New Balance Nationals?
Finish breaking as many records as possible in my State, but briefly and more specifically I would say; 6.6 in the 60m dash, and for the 200m Dash I would like to be one of the few to get into the 20's on an Indoor track seeing as my 21.66 was on a "Flat 200m Track" and my Coach feels we should be looking good towards season end on a faster track, like the Armory or an oversized track. For the 400 I would say anything in the 46's would be something to be proud of accomplishing for me.
Describe your hardest workout.
Believe it or not, it was at our backup practice spot on some jogging lanes above basketball courts in Eastern Michigan Universities Rec. IM Building only a few days ago. I think because of the heat and the level of energy my 400 and 200 teammates brought with them made it extra rough that day. It was basically some Super Serious Accelerations due to the sharp turns up there on that track.
If you could have a day completely free from any responsibilities, what would you do?
Wake up and go chill with my friends, play other sports.
If you could trade lives with anyone, who would it be and why?
I wouldn't, I like Me and who I'm trying to become in life, I would just Love to have Bill Gates $ so I could help out family and organizations like the Michigan All-Stars that help kids to do positive things with all their spare time and energy!
Describe your childhood dream.
Pre-race pump-up song: Meek Mill Ambition
Post-race meal: Chicken Alfredo
Last book you read: Homeboy a few weeks ago, Great Gatsby right now, and my Coach will make me listen to an Audio Book on the way to New York of course.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Honey Bunches of Oats
If you could work out with any athlete from any sport, it would be...? Usain Bolt or Tyson Gay