As fast as West Liberty-Salem junior Kam Evans is on the track, he might be an even faster learner off it.
The night before the Tigers’ first track meet, Evans promised the team he would beat senior teammate and state qualifier Taylor Cordell at least once in either the 110-meter hurdles or the 300 hurdles. It was quite the challenge since Evans was running track for the first time since junior high.
“Everyone started screaming and yelling and laughing,” West Liberty-Salem coach Joe Taylor said.
Evans has finished ahead of Cordell in the 300. But as he’s learned, that’s about the only time Evans wants to be in front of him. Evans’ hyper pre-race preparation involves whipping teammates into a frenzy. All except the reserved, intensely focused Cordell.
“Sometimes I just let him be,” Evans said, laughing. “I’ll skip him and go to the next teammate and get them pumped up.”
Both have energized the Tigers’ track team with the powerful 1-2 punch in the hurdles. Cordell — undefeated in the 110 hurdles against Evans — set a personal best in the 110s with a 14.91 at the Anna Invitational. That just missed tying the school record of 14.90.
Evans’ 15.93 was also a personal best. They swept the hurdles to score 36 of their team’s 62 points in those two events.
“Being a year older than Kam and doing it the past couple years, I try to push him and help him through it,” Cordell said. “If he knows something I don’t he helps me out. If I know something he doesn’t he’ll ask me. We push each other.”
As for Evans’ boast to beat him, Cordell took it as inspiration — as intended — instead of arrogance.
“That’s something I really like to hear from a teammate like that,” Cordell said. “To know a teammate of mine who has the ability to do almost the same things I’ve done and is trying to be better than me is definitely a good thing from a teammate. You want to encourage them to get better. I hope he beats me. I’m going to be gone next year so I hope he has a chance to do it better than I have.”
Both have benefited from the teachings of long-time hurdles coach Larry Steider. Steider has helped hone Cordell’s technique, while knocking the rust off Evans. They hope to reward Steider by qualifying for the state championships. Cordell’s best shot is in the 110 and Evans is in the 300.
“That makes me want to push myself harder and use it as a motivator,” Evans said. “I still have plenty of things to work on. I thought it would take me awhile. I’m glad with how it’s going right now.”