* Alonzo Sims lines up in the 200m at the 757 Showdown in January
Photo Credit: Olivia Ekpone
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By Olivia Ekpone - MileSplit
Alonzo Sims' journey in track and field began with a mindset of getting faster and stronger for the upcoming football season. That was four years ago.
As a freshman, he played safety and wide receiver for Riverdale Baptist School (MD). Football had been his passion for as long as he could remember. But what made those moments on the field even more special was being able to compete with his twin brother Antonio Sims.
It's not uncommon to see football players join the track and field team to stay in shape for the fall season, and Alonzo was no different. He signed up for the track team.
But that decision ultimately changed so much for him, and it ultimately set a path forward for the rest of his career. As the high school senior heads toward New Balance Nationals Indoor, where he is scheduled to compete in the 400m, his hopes of running track at the next level remain as big as ever.
This weekend, he has the opportunity to line up against the fastest sprinters in the nation. A week later, he will lace up for the final time this indoor season at the adidas Track Nationals in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
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The Beginning Of A Career
After training and being challenged by his brother for a few weeks in his first track season in 2019, Sims competed for the first time in his life at the FIT Invitational at Prince George's Sportsplex in Landover, Maryland.
* In his first 300m of his career, Alonzo Sims won his section with a 38.99 at the FIT Invitational as a freshman
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He laced up his track spikes to see where he stood among Maryland's best. At this particular meet, he competed in the 55m and 300m, where he sprinted to times of 7.21 and 38.99 seconds. The meet was an eye-opener for him.
As a 14-year-old lining up against seniors it was quite intimidating, but he looked past that.
Sims saw his potential and remained optimistic about what track and field could do for him and his future if he stuck with it. More importantly, he never gave up on himself, either.
When Sims became a high school junior in 2020, it became a pivotal year.
To kick off the new school year, Sims ended up breaking both feet on two different occasions during the football season. He broke his right foot in August and then three weeks later broke his left.
"This started my track season off a little slow, but it made me start thinking about what sport I really want to do in college and go out throughout my life doing," Sims said. "Track started popping up and I started to get back in shape in the way that I was. I just kept going up from there."
Despite the challenges he faced -- going through rehab for the injury and fighting through the lactic acid at practice -- that's when he realized track was growing on him.
It started to become his passion and he began to enjoy the connections he made with coaches and other athletes across the nation who supported him through his journey. He took every opportunity to get better, even if that meant trying other events, including the 800m.
* Alonzo Sims after running a 49.76 to kick off the indoor season at the 757 Showdown
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Full Steam Ahead
Fast forward to his senior year in 2022. His eyes have been set on being the best version of himself.
First up is performing at the level required for a scholarship.
In the first week of January, he set a new best of 49.76 in the 400m at the 757 Showdown. It was then when he began thinking about the possibilities of nationals.
"I want to make a name for myself and I could potentially be a national champion," he told me that day.
As the indoor season has unfolded, his efforts in the longer sprints have ranked him within the top 50 in the country.
Sims had a breakthrough moment when he ran his fourth sub 50-second 400m at the Ocean Breeze Elite Invitational, where he ran a 48.78 personal best, which beat both his indoor and outdoor bests. It's currently U.S. No. 30.
Beyond that event, the Riverdale Baptist sprinter has also clocked times of 22.67 and a 34.98 seconds in the 200m and 300m.
But to Sims, he's also put his success and development into perspective: To think these marks were seemingly once out of reach, it's shown him that he's grown mentally and has began to move track to the number one spot on his priority list.
He believes this is just the beginning.
For the outdoor season, he hopes to dip into the 46-second range in the 400m and break through all barriers.
* Alonzo Sims competed in the sprints at the 757 Showdown
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