Two years ago, Halihl Guy showed up for his first workout with the St. Mary’s track coaches. A junior transfer from Berkeley High, Guy wasn’t quite used to the workload the Panthers demanded.
“Halihl would do great for the first third of the workout, but he would die really quickly,” says St. Mary’s head coach Jay Lawson. “It was a challenge for him to mentally adjust to the amount of work we wanted from him.”
Flash forward to this year, and you’d never know it was the same Guy. The senior is one of the hardest workers at St. Mary’s, and that has translated into stellar performances in four events at nearly every meet. Guy, 17, runs both hurdles races, and is a member of the Panthers’ outstanding 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay squads, and has turned into one of the team’s leaders both on and off the track.
Guy, who lives in Hercules, will run all four races at Saturday’s North Coast Section meet at Diablo Valley College in Stockton. He is expected to qualify in both hurdles races for the California Interscholastic Federation state championship meet two weeks later, as are the relay teams. And once he gets there, Guy could rip off his fastest times yet. After all, he set a personal best at last year’s state meet in the 300-meter hurdles with a mark of 37.95 seconds, good for fourth at that meet and still his best time in the event.
“We build all year towards the state meet; our coaches do that on purpose,” Guy says. “I want to win both hurdles at state. The only thing that can keep that from happening is me.”
That confidence came slowly for Guy, who spent his first two years of high school training only sporadically before coming into the vaunted St. Mary’s program, which has won three straight boys NCS titles.
“He would only train two or three days a week before he got here,” Lawson says. “He wasn’t used to the kind of things we do here.”
But it didn’t take long for Guy to adjust, and he spent the last part of the season improving his times every week, culminating in his surprise finish at the state meet.
“I think that month he finally started believing in the program, and he put up some times he didn’t think he could,” Lawson says.
In addition to a tougher training regiment, Guy says better teammates have pushed him farther than he could go by himself. His main training partners are his relay teammates, Asokah Muhammed, Chris Dunbar and Courtney Brown.
“When we practice, we all push each other, and that makes us all better,” he says. “We can feed off of each other’s success.”
But while Guy works hard to be a key link in the relay teams, his main goal is to improve on the hurdles, which are the key to getting a scholarship for college.
“I’m a hurdler first; the relays are just fun for all of us,” he says. “But the hurdles are what the college coaches want to see.”
Guy is mulling offers from Washington State, Arizona State, Kansas and Cal. He says he would like to decide before the state meet, but wants to improve his times before making a decision.
“It’s like trying to get a job: the more references you have, the better job you’ll get,” he says. “They’re going to wait as long as possible, so I need to impress them.”
Guy isn’t all about individual accomplishments, however. He admits that even if he wins the hurdles at state, he won’t be satisfied unless the Panthers take the team title.
“If I do good but the team does bad, no one else is happy, and that’s no fun,” he says.
One key to that team title will be a showdown with the 4x100-meter relay team from Taft High (Woodland Hills). Taft put up the best time in the state in that event early in the season at 41.30 seconds, and the Panthers tied the mark at the Meet of Champions in Sacramento two weeks ago. Although the Taft team dropped the baton at their league meet and failed to qualify for sectionals, they were given a special spot and are expected to make the state meet.
“I’m not happy that they got into it after they lost, but they’ll just make us run faster to win,” Guy says. “They can just run fast for second or third place.”