Further Review: Keep an eye on this kid
Story by Ken Cohen
July 12, 2013 I'm always on the lookout for the next special athlete to come out of Sullivan County. For a small area, we've had our share over the years: Maurice Martin, Tammi Reiss, Kaseem Sinceno, Bobby Heins all come to mind as those who reached the professional level in their respective sports.
I think I've spotted another potential great one. And he's only 10 years old. Call me anxious or premature, but Evan Waterton of Kiamesha Lake is putting up numbers that are almost unheard of. Not competing against other kids, but adults! Evan is a runner and his times and finishes in area 5k races are more than eye-opening. They're head-spinning.
Check it out: in the recent Smallwood Fighting Fires 5k, Evan finished eighth overall out of 168 runners in 21:42. At the Rhulen Run, he came in 53rd out of 863 in a time of 21:07. At the Allyson Whitney race in early June, he finished 17th of 483 in a time of 22:11.
I knew these were fast times for these local races, but I was curious how Evan's times compared to those his age nationwide. There is no comparison. In a review of 10 5k races from Waymart, Pennsylvania to Stuart, Florida, the best time I saw for a 9-year-old runner was 24:08. The average time for 10-12 year olds is closer to 30 minutes than 20 minutes.
Evan is by no means the fastest there are 9-year-olds who have run 19-minute 5ks, so there is competition out there for him. But it's probably safe to say that he is in the top one percent of all 9-year-olds running 5ks. Because there is really no ranking of runners at that age, it's difficult to place Evan nationally. Let's just say he is really, really good and headed in the right direction.
He says he loves to run. And we know his family loves to run. So he has all of the necessary support systems in place and more importantly, proper training guidance, to literally accelerate at the right speed. Way too often in sports, we see young prodigies flame out because they were pushed too hard or received detrimental advice. They either lose interest or their skills diminish. I've seen it over and over again in golf young phenoms who by the time they graduate high school are all done.
I don't see that happening with Evan. I don't know him, but I've watched from a distance at several of these 5ks and there's something very special about this 9-year-old. Confident, but happy. Determined, but down-to earth. Cognizant, but still a kid. He seems to be enjoying every stride and intent on getting better.
I was talking with someone the other day about Evan and it's hard to believe, but he could be a top long distance runner for any high school in the region now! Which begs the question: if an elementary school student is good enough to compete in individual sports like cross country, track and field, golf and tennis then why not?
I know New York State Education Law insists on at least 7th grade because they feel there's a certain maturity level required. Understandable, but we're only talking about the truly exceptional kids the one in a hundred who obviously are way ahead of their years both physically and mentally.
Anyway, keep an eye on Evan if your eyes are fast enough to keep up with him.
Ken Cohen brings 30 years of publishing experience, many covering sports and working for sports companies. His column, “Further Review” will appear every Friday.