By Ryan Rogers
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Young athletes everywhere grow up with dreams of hitting a game-winning shot like Michael Jordan, throwing a touchdown pass like Joe Montana or blazing down the track like Michael Johnson, but few possess the talent to do so.
It was a road of patience and hard work for Baylor sprinter Woodrow Randall, but he became one of the select few to reach those lofty goals. At one of the most prestigious meets in the country, Randall used the roar of the Texas Relays crowd last April to tie Johnson's all-time Baylor record of 10.13 in the 100 meters.
Rewind to only five years earlier, and Randall was just getting his start. Growing up in New Orleans, he wasn't afforded the opportunity to get on the track as a middle schooler.
"I never ran track until high school, I wanted to run in middle school, but in New Orleans there aren't that many track programs," Randall said. "So I decided not to run until I got to high school."
Right from the start, Randall showed his prowess as a high school freshman at Marietta (Ga.) high school, helping his team finish second in the 4x100-meter relay at the national indoor meet. He went on to claim Georgia state individual titles in the 100 and 200 meters, as well as the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays.
After graduation, Randall was recruited to run track at Southwest Mississippi Community College in Summit, Miss., a 450-mile trek from his North Atlanta hometown.
While in Mississippi, Randall's success continued, catching the eye of Baylor head coach Todd Harbour. Randall became a four-time NJCAA All-American and made the decision to go to Baylor upon completion of his two-year associate's degree.
On the track, however, neither Randall nor Harbour knew exactly how his success at the junior college level would translate to Baylor and the Big 12 Conference.
"We knew he was good, but we just didn't know how good," Harbour said. "Woodrow worked hard and always came to the track ready to give his best."
That hard work paid off with Randall surprising even himself as the season progressed. Indoors, the junior speedster gained confidence from an All-Big 12 performance in the 60 meters and carried that it into an All-American finish at the NCAA Championship.
"Here (at Baylor) you have to come ready to compete every time out because everyone is working towards achieving the same thing," Randall said.
Outdoors, Randall really hit his stride, keeping the surprises coming with his school-record-tying run in the 100 at the Texas Relays.
"I was like ‘Wow, I just tied Johnson's record,'" Randall said. "I was amazed that I ran that fast."
Among his accomplishments in an impressive opening season in the Green and Gold, Randall also became an integral part of one of the fastest 4x100-meter relay teams in program history. He took the opening leg of the sprint relay at the NCAA Outdoor Championship, and helped the team to the second-fastest time ever at Baylor of 39.09 and a sixth-place, All-America finish.
With a year at Baylor under his belt, and a senior season to look forward to, Randall knows that great success brings great expectations.
"I expect a lot from myself every time I go out and run," Randall said. "My drive for wanting to be successful has helped push myself to be the best I can be."
Randall's inner-drive, he says, starts with his mother and grandparents, and continues with the coaches who believed in him enough to bring him to Baylor.