Sometimes, all it takes a little luck and the right break for a great career to flourish.
Such is the case of Coatesville track and field standout Terrance Laird.
Laird began his high school career at Twin Valley, where he excelled at baseball. When he moved to Coatesville during the spring semester of his junior year, Laird felt it was too late to go out for baseball, so he turned to track.
“I got a random email introducing himself and saying he wanted to be part of the track team,” said Coatesville head coach Damian Henry. “He came out a month into the season, we nicknamed him ‘Tax Day’ because that was the time he came out. He showed off his potential immediately.”
That bit of serendipity resulted in a gold medal performance at the PIAA Championships and earned Laird the Daily Local News All-Area Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year award.
“I’m very happy,” said Laird. “I worked very hard, along with the rest of my teammates. We wanted to do well at states because, we’re a family and worked for this. I know Coatesville has had a lot of great runners. It’s great that I could be added to that list.”
Coatesville has seen many fine track athletes — especially sprinters — pass through its halls. In Henry’s opinion, Laird’s name deserves to be mentioned with the very best.
“Terrance is a once in a lifetime athlete, blessed with talent and a strong work ethic who was willing to put in the work,” he said. “He worked and worked until he was able to become one of the best sprinters in the state.
“As far as talent goes, he’s at the top of the list in my eight years as head coach. He probably will go down as probably as one of the top five to ever come through Coatesville.”
The genesis for Laird’s season was planted last season in the state meet, in what was easily the race of the weekend. Laird went stride-for-stride with Downingtown West’s Josh McLemore in the 200-meter final. They hit the tape together, but McLemore outleaned Laird for the victory in a photo finish.
“It did leave a bad taste in my mouth,” he said. “But, I used it as fuel to work harder and come back stronger.”
“He handled it very well,” added Henry. “He didn’t let it fester, he worked hard in the summer and spun it into a positive.”
Laird started his postseason in triumphant fashion by winning the 200 at the Ches-Mont Championships and anchored a pair of relay victories, including rallying from third at the start of his leg in the 4×400 to register a convincing victory. He broke a 17-year-old record in the 200 with a time of 21.11.
He followed that at the District 1 meet, by blazing to victory in 20.83.
“I was skeptical he could run that at districts, but I knew if he could run that fast, no one can beat him,” he said.
The season built to a crescendo at the state meet, where Laird ran a 21.02 in winning the 200, then returned to anchor the winning 4×100 team in a dominant gold medal performance.
“I was satisfied,” Laird said. “The times are the times, but it’s great when you win as a team with guys who became good friends.”
Laird will attend Penn State with the intent on majoring in business administration.
A tall, lanky, runner, Laird’s natural speed is enhanced by his near-perfect form.
“I know he’s going to graduate, and the sky’s the limit,” said Henry. “If he can stay healthy and have the same drive and avoid the distractions, he can become the one of the best sprinters in the country.”
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