By David Cohen
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Running is a quicker way from Point A to Point B for some people, but for others it is a talent few can surpass.
TCU senior track and field sprinter Charles Silmon had a Cinco de Mayo celebration for the ages, winning three Big 12 titles, the Men’s High Point Scorer Award and recording the top NCAA time for the 200-meter dash this year. All of the above happened in his hometown of Waco.
“Charles is a role model for our team and where we are trying to go,” head coach Daryl Anderson said. “He was the high-point scorer in the meet, he got a personal best in the 200 by three-tenths and by the end of the meet everything he touched turned to gold. His 4x100 and 100 was also outstanding.”
TCU’s 4x100-meter dash team, which featured three freshmen, won its eighth consecutive conference championship after winning all seven of its previous meets in the Mountain West. Silmon’s 100-meter time was an astounding 10.18. His 20.33 time in the 200-meter dash was not only a personal best and the top NCAA time also the sixth-best time in the world for the year.
“Coach Anderson wanted me to get out in front,” Silmon said after the meet. “I got the edge in the race and I came out with the win. It has been great running in front of this crowd. Today has had many special moments.”
Anderson was particularly impressed with Silmon’s determination in every event he competed in.
“Charles had the wherewithal to get back into races,” he said. “If you panic, it’s hard to win.”
Silmon did not necessarily see himself becoming a superstar in his sport, but he cannot argue with the results. It all clicked only a few years before first stepping foot on TCU’s campus.
“I didn’t think I was good until I made it to state [as a sophomore] and my coach told me only the best in the state of Texas make it to this level,” he said. “After my junior year I got second in the 200 and that’s when I felt I could win the next year, so the more I thought about track the better I got.”
Silmon says football was supposed to be a dream come true, but some “ups and downs” with ACL injuries hurt those chances. When the NFL Combine was the top story on ESPN, he could not help but think about his gridiron days.
“Honestly, I was thinking ‘if that kid is running that time, then what would I run?’”, Silmon said. “Track speed and football speed are two totally different things, so I can’t go against the things they’re doing.“
Silmon, who won the Pop Boone Award for TCU Male Athlete of the Year in April, also came within a tenth of a second from qualifying for the Olympics in the Men’s 100 meter trials last summer. The event featured the likes of Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and several other celebrities.
“At the time, it wasn’t a good experience because it was very stressful,” he said. “They had better accolades than I had and ran faster times than me. I never had time to sit and talk with them because I was trying to do the things they were trying to do.
“I was getting in the way of that and it was getting in my way so it was very stressful and fun at the same time.”
The experience with the best of the best has helped Silmon in his TCU meets, especially with his wind-aided 9.94 in the 100-meter dash at the Texas Relays in March. While the weather disqualifies it from school records or NCAA rankings, he can still say the only runners he lost to were Olympians in Darvis Patton, Wallace Spearmon and Mike Rodgers.
“I didn’t realize I was running step-for-step with those guys till around the 60 or 70-meter mark,” Silmon said. “It was fun racing with those guys.”
While being among the best in one’s sport is simply bragging rights to some, Silmon has taken the high road and modestly says he does not often think about how good he has become.
“I feel like I haven’t yet accomplished some of the goals I want to accomplish,” he said. “I’ll take some breaks and think about it. The most important thing is I never settle on where I am and always want to do better.”
Like many athletes, he is quite superstitious before every race.
“We have this thing called a Tiger Bomb which is like an Icy Hot, and I use it so much that my trainers call it the Charles Bomb,” Silmon said. “I also pray before every warmup and race and even as I get into the box.”
Another key to Silmon’s success is his reluctance to check progressions, whether they are his or his opponents’.
“We have heat sheets, and I am the type of guy who hates looking at them,” he said. “I try not to worry about my opponents until it’s time to hit the track. If I worry about them, I can’t worry about me.”
Silmon says the atmosphere of TCU is what drove him to choosing the Horned Frogs.
“TCU is a small school and I’m one of those kids that if I went to a big school I would get lost in the maze,” he said. “There’s also a rich history of track and field here and I felt that if I was to improve here I would have the potential do something well.”
Silmon has lofty, but certainly reachable, goals for track after TCU, but like any responsible student-athlete he has plans for when his running days are over.
“I’m going to be a social worker,” he said. “My mom is one and I like the job she does, so I do community service every summer when I have free time. That’s what I plan on doing. I’m minoring in social work and majoring in sociology but I haven’t thought about sociology yet.”