By Michael Bower
Lance Mudd was so busy on the football field throughout his youth he didn’t even realize just how great he could be on a track.
“I did a Sixth-Grade Olympics and I won every single one of my events by a long shot,” the Poway High junior said. “But I was always caught up with Pop Warner. I didn’t really think about track.”
Mudd ran track his freshman year, but it wasn’t until the end of the season that he started to realize he could be one of the best in the county.
And it didn’t completely resonate with him until his sophomore year, when he was part of the 4x100-meter relay team that went to the CIF State Track and Field Championships.
“It started at the end of my freshman year when I did sprints and jumps for the varsity team,” said Mudd, who along with the 4x100-relay runs the 100 and 200. “Then my sophomore year, we made it to state and I had a lot more swagger. This year, I am ready to go to state and make the podium.”
Right now, the Titans’ top time of 42.63-seconds in the 4x100 ranks them 20th in the state. They will likely need to improve by at least half of a second to have any chance at reaching the finals at the state meet. That’s a task coach Bruce Jackson says is certainly possible.
“All the pieces are just now healthy,” he said. “I think once they get some consistency with running together this team can make the state and run sub-42.”
Part of the reason Mudd has developed so quickly on the track this season stems from a season-ending injury he suffered on the football field, where he plays running back and defensive back for the Titans.
Mudd broke his left arm against Westview in October and the injury required surgery. It kept him out of football for the rest of the season and from playing basketball in the winter.
“I got out of my cast five weeks early and I was feeling OK so I was thinking I can wear a brace and play basketball,” Mudd said. “But I was not able to, and that actually abled me to become a lot better at sprinting.”
Mudd spent the winter training for track in the weight room and working on technique.
“He was a regular face as far as preseason conditioning went,” Jackson said. “He showed up repeatedly outside in the winter and was dedicated to track a little more than the previous season. He showed he wanted to get better.”
Mudd has always been one of the quickest out of the blocks and throughout the first 40 meters in the 100. He runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, but his top speed was lacking and allowed runners to chase him down in the final 60 meters.
“I noticed I was running tense,” he said. “You can’t really feel it, but you can see it in the pictures. My muscles were flexing. (Poway sprinting coach) Felton Turnage really helped me a lot. He is one of the best around.”
Turnage spoke to Mudd about relaxing and breathing and gradually Mudd’s times have been dropping and his rank in the section rising. Mudd is currently No. 7 in the 200 with a season-best time of 22.5. His season-best time of 11.06 in the 100 is close to cracking the top-10.
“My goal for the 100 is to run 10.7 and I am so close to getting there,” Mudd said. “My goal for the 200 at first was 22.3, but I already hit 22.5 ... so now I am shooting for 21.6 or 21.5.”
Sure sounds like Mudd knows what he can do on a track now.