It’s time for Trae Armstrong to go national, maybe even international.
“The more races he can run against the elite sprinters in our country is obviously going to make him better,” said Eric Bolus, Deer Valley track coach. “What doesn’t get mentioned in the state results is that he ran a 10.67 (in the 100 meters), but there was a 20 mph headwind. I think he could have been in the 10.4s, which puts him right up there with the very best.”
The sprinter finished his junior year at Deer Valley this week. He’d like to spend part of his summer vacation in France.
Fresh off winning the Division I state titles in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, Armstrong already has trips planned to Albuquerque, N.M. (June 2-4 for the Great Southwest Classic) and Myrtle Beach, S.C. (June 28-29 for the World Youth Track and Field trials).
If Armstrong makes the U.S. team for his age group (16-17), he’ll compete in the World Youth Championships July 6-10 in Lille, France.
“I’m just going to run the 100 and 200. I think I’ll work harder than I ever have, because it’s different than preparing for the state,” Armstrong said. “I’ve never met any of these kids before and it’s a big meet so you know everybody’s going to be at their best.”
With five Arizona titles on his resume, it was time for Armstrong to broaden his horizons. His busy summer schedule represents the start of what should be a full calendar year before he graduates.
Once his adventures with the national team end, Armstrong will plunge back into football. He rushed for 1,521 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior, caught two touchdown passes and averaged 33 yards per kickoff return, including one touchdown.
He’ll be the Skyhawks’ main weapon, but not their only one. Deer Valley could be a sleeper in the new Division II thanks to a Class of 2012 that includes quarterback Auston Hillman, power back Chris Landram, wide receiver Jack Bruce, lineman Stephen Arnold, linebacker John Reed and cornerback Kenny Bowden.
“It’s just exciting watching how much we grew,” Armstrong said. “It’s all the kids I grew up playing football with. It’s our last year together and it means a lot to us.”
Football season will also be vital to Armstrong’s goal of continuing both sports at a major college. He’s received plenty of interest from track programs, but “seven or eight” inquiries from football programs, including a scholarship offer from Montana.
At 5-feet-7 and 170 pounds, Armstrong may be considered too small to be an every-down back for a Division 1 college program. That’s not an issue for him — he said he just wants to contribute.
“I think my biggest thing is going to be trying to find a college that will let me do both. I know some colleges want you to be one-sport athletes, but that’s not what I’m looking for,” said Armstong, who wants to major in athletic training. “I just want to play. I don’t want to be the kid that goes to the school and sits on the bench for three years. I want to earn a job and help the (college) as much as possible.”
The recent evolution of college football plays in his favor. The proliferation of spread offenses places a premium on speed and the ability to make plays from multiple positions.
“It’s becoming a track meet on grass,” said Bolus, who also coaches defensive backs for the varsity football team.
When his football career ends and a college is picked, Armstrong can concentrate on finishing his Deer Valley track years with a flourish. He wants to win all three sprints again, post a 100 time of 10.5 and go under 21 seconds in the 200. “For the 400, I don’t know,” he said.
Bolus said he sees the potential for something even bigger, like the state record of 10.33 in the 100, set in 1978 by Dysart’s Cricket Marshall and matched in 2009 by Hamilton’s Ryan Milus.
“I would like to make a run at the 10.33 (100). Definitely to break 21 in the 200 and see where the 400 takes him,” Bolus said. “His split was 46 in the 4x400 when he passed Chandler’s anchor, so I don’t know if there’s even a ceiling on where the 400 can go with more experience. I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure my knowledge is enough to get him to where he can be one of the all-time greats.”