Simon Holden has had some tough races in his career at Baylor, but one of the most difficult ended a few days ago when the talented speedster decided to spend his college career at Winston Salem, N.C. where he will run cross country and track for Wake Forest.
Holden has been at Baylor for the past seven years where he has totally dominated his sports.
He won his first state title in cross country back in November after finishing second the year before. He later earned All-America honors by finishing ninth at the FootLocker Regional Championship in Charlotte, which qualified him for the Natinal Championship race in San Diego.
His fourth-place finish at the prestigious Tennessee Classic was the only cross country race he didn't win.
While he has had exceptional success in cross country, he quickly admits that track is his favorite sport.
Just last May at the Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, Holden proved his worth by winning the 3200, 800 and 1600 runs the same day.
Track practice began at Baylor this week and Holden is shooting for school records in the 800 and 1600, but making the decision about where he'll be spending the next four years was a higher priority this week.
"I'm super excited as it's a burden off my shoulders," the 18-year-old son of Horace and Alisa Holden expressed after class on Tuesday.
"I can put my total focus on track now, but I really liked the coach at Wake. His name is Brad Hunt. That was the deciding factor for me.
"I had several choices, but I wanted to go away. I took visits to Furman and Wake Forest in the same trip, but I was also considering Georgia Tech, Williams and Bowdoin. I'm not sure exactly what I want to study, but I don't have to declare a major until after my second year," Holden continued.
Baylor's school record in the 800 is 1:53 while the mark for the 1600 is a 4:09. Both are held by former standout Oliver Townsend. Holden's PR of 1:55 in the 800 was the same day when he won the other two longer races.
"I think I can run a sub-1:53 in the 800, but getting the record in the 1600 will be a whole lot harder," he said when admitting his current best at that distance is 4:17.
Jan Gautier has been the boys cross country coach for the past four years and she's been there to personally watch Holden as he's developed into a top-notch competitor.
"The coach at Wake asked me if he was for real and I told him that he's one of the finest young men I've ever known. Everything about him is outstanding as he's a genuine great runner.
"I've watched him grow for the past four years and I haven't found anything negative about him, but Simon at this worst is better than most people at their best. I knew he would be good when I first met him, but I just didn't know he'd be this good," Gautier praised.
"You have to give him the credit because he's worked hard to get to this level. I coached him for the past four years and I can proudly say that I developed him as a runner. He's been a great one to be associated with," the coach added.
Bill McMahan is the track coach at Baylor and he offered similar comments.
"I've never seen anyone with a better kick than Simon. He really works at it and he's a real competitor. I always want to make sure that I have quality people on my team and Simon is a great representative of Baylor School," McMahan said matter of factly.
The big decision has been made, so the suspense is over. Now he can focus on his final track season for the Red Raiders and he knows it will be over before he knows it.
"My time at Baylor has been awesome, but it's flown by. I can't believe it's almost over," he concluded.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)