STATE COLLEGE - On his way to State College for the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association Indoor Championships, Kalil Slaughter stopped off at Ridgway for a basketball game.
The Sheffield High School senior played 31 of 32 minutes in his team's District 9 playoff basketball game on Friday night before the indoor championships Saturday morning at Penn State University.
Slaughter qualified for the non-PIAA championships at Edinboro University during an indoor track and field season that started in December. He was competing among some of the top high school sprinters in the state in both the 60-meter dash and 200. But mostly against himself.
The goal, according to Sheffield boys track coach Bryan Gould, was to get better for the high school track season in the spring. Slaughter has already finished second in the state in the 100-meter dash in Class AA, and eighth in the state in the 200.
"It was a great experience and even better competition," said Gould. "I think we accomplished our goal of realizing the importance of the start, and will continue to work on it through the outdoor season.I truly believe this will make him that much better in the 100-meter dash."
There's no 60-meter dash in the spring high school sports season, but Kalil might have had one of his best starts of the indoor track season in the semifinal race on Saturday, said Gould.
There were four heats of seven qualifiers in the 60-meter dash preliminaries. The top two places from each heat, and the next eight fastest times, qualified for the semifinals. Slaughter ran his heat in 7.18 seconds, which qualified him for the semis.
"In the semis, they ran two heats of eight boys," said Gould. "They took the top two from each heat, and the next four fastest times (to the finals). He had one of his best starts of the indoor season in that race and ran a 7.13, but missed qualifying for the finals by three-hundredths of a second. He finished 11th overall in the 60-meter dash."
Eleventh overall was actually the best in the state for any sprinter from a school below Class AAAA, according to Sheffield coach Dave Fitch.
Slaughter also qualified in the 200-meter dash on Saturday. There were seven heats of five, and Slaughter finished his heat in 22.92 seconds.
There were no finals, said Gould, and Slaughter's time did not qualify him for a medal.
"The indoor track at Penn State is also a banked track, with the turns actually banked," he said. "This was the first time he ran on one, which made it a little more difficult.
"'That was weird,'" Gould said Slaughter told him.
"Kalil didn't medal at the state indoor track meet on Saturday, but the experience and competition was well worth the trip," said Gould. "At the PTSCA Championships at Penn State University, there were 571 athletes representing 237 schools from Pa. Just to show you the competition, there were 475 'National Elite' times ran yesterday at the meet. There's no regret in what we did."
Slaughter knew it was big deal when he saw his name on the scoreboard at the Division I school.
"I ran as hard as I could, and I was letting my body do what I could," said Slaughter. "It was all just a learning experience."