Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
William Fleming star sprinter Khalil Bonds is chasing a trifecta of wins on Saturday in the Cosmopolitan Invitational track and field meet.
JOEL HAWKSLEY | The Roanoke Times
William Fleming senior Khalil Bonds, 17, is leading Timesland in the 100, 200 and 400. His favorite race is the 400; "I fell in love with it the first time I ran it."
Friday, May 3, 2013
Residents of Northwest Roanoke must have been wondering this spring if a wayward skydiver had badly missed his target zone.
After all, it's not every day that a guy runs down the street with a parachute strapped to his back.
Unless that runner is Khalil Bonds.
The William Fleming senior is Timesland's fastest sprinter. Not content to simply run up hills to build leg strength heading into his final high school season, Bonds added the parachute to his neighborhood training regimen.
It seems to have worked.
Heading into today's Cosmopolitan Invitational track and field meet, Bonds has the fastest marks in Timesland in the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
Top-seeded in all three events, he hopes to pull off the difficult triple on his home track.
Patrick Henry's Joseph Mesadieu was the last runner to pull off the feat in the Cosmo, tripling in the sprints in 2007.
Colonels coach Rudy Dillard says he has little doubt as to why Bonds is peaking in his final season in blue and yellow.
"He works harder now than he did in the past," Dillard said, drawing a nod from Bonds.
Not that Bonds wasn't having success in previous years.
He qualified for the VHSL Group AAA championships as a sophomore and a junior. In the 2012 Cosmo, he won both the 100 and the 200.
But when Bonds went up against the state's best sprinters it was a little different story.
At the Group AAA meet last spring, Bonds ran a solid 49.77 seconds in the 400, but finished 12th. Bonds was 25th in the event at the state meeting as a sophomore.
"I was tired of getting beat," said Bonds, who found himself pushed regularly while running AAU track last summer. "In AAU, everyone was my speed or better."
Enter the hill training.
And the parachute.
Running with the parachute reminds him of part of his favorite race.
"It really feels like the last 100 meters of the 400," said Bonds, who is sometimes called by his middle name, Malik. "You feel like a monkey is on your back.
"It's a fight. A fight with your own body. And a fight against the guys you're racing against."
Sounds like fun, huh?
"But I love it," Bonds said. "I fell in love with it the first time I ran it."
That was the spring of his eighth-grade year, when a friend talked Bonds into taking up the sport.
Bonds has been on track ever since.
Bonds' best time in the 400 this season is 50.01, which he ran this past weekend at the Joe Curcio Invitational.
After the race, Dillard noticed Bonds was hurting.
"I could see it in his face," Dillard said. "I knew something was wrong."
Bonds had developed quarter-sized blisters on the soles of both feet.
"I felt it happening," he said.
He was running - for the first time - in the spikes he normally uses for the long jump.
"They were a little bit bigger than my other ones," Bonds said, the comment causing Dillard to just shake his head.
Breaking the "nothing new on race day" rule had further consequences.
"I had prom that night," Bonds said, smirking. "I couldn't dance. I just sat down all night."
Bonds, who also played football for Fleming as a wide receiver and defensive back, said the blisters are healing well.
"Plus I got these new non-blister socks," he said, proudly showing off his new piece of equipment, which he promised his coach he would try out before today's sprint finals.
Bonds, who also credited fast teammates Warren Craft, Aaron Mason and Quashawn Robertson for pushing him in practice, said he hopes to go under 49 in the 400 this season.
He'd also like to run under 21.6 in the 200, breaking a time run by his cousin, former William Fleming star K.C. Bratton.
"He told me to go out there and get it," Bonds said.
Dillard doesn't doubt that the mark is within reach.
"Personally I think he's better in the 200," Dillard said. "He's got better turnover and just comes off the corner so strong."
With more parachute and hill sessions on tap, Bonds has no plans to slow down now.
Weather Journal70 Thursday to ice Sunday?