COLUMBIA — Like many 17-year-olds Wesley Leftwich enjoys video games, sports and hanging out with his friends. Unlike anyone else his age, he’s faster than most NFL players.
“I’ve ran 4.2’s and 4.3’s,” says the Hickman junior about his recorded 40-yard dash times at various football camps he’s attended. Leftwich is a top recruit at wide receiver in the nation and has already committed to play football at MU.
- Evan Smith, Dominic Price, Marcus Whitt, along with Leftwich, are participating in the Kewpies' boys 4x200-meter relay team, which set the school record at last weekend's sectional.
- Brad Chandler, Leftwich, Price, and Smith make up the boys 4x100-meter relay team.
- Price has also qualifed for the boys 300-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay.
- Galit Rudelson broke the school record in the girls pole vault by clearing 11 feet.
- Sarah Hall will compete in discus and shot put. She is the No. 1 seed in the shot put.
- Victoria Jackson will be competeting in the girls long jump, 100-meter hurdles and 4x100-meter relay.
- Evan Smith has also qualified for the boys 100- and 200-meter dash.
- Jamela Kimbrough will be competing in the girls 100- and 200-meter dash and the 4x100-meter relay.
- Justina Olisah and Corey Potter are the other members of the girls 4x100-meter relay team.
- Nasia Stevenson will be competing in the girls 400-meter dash.
- Jimmie Garth has qualified for the boys 800-meter run and is a member of the 4x400-meter relay.
- Zach Lynn will be competing in the 3200-meter run.
- Chase Baxter and Keith Kimbrough are the other members of the boys 4x400-meter relay.
Along with his football prowess, Leftwich has qualified for three events in the state track and field championships Friday and Saturday in Jefferson City.
With his athleticism and massive physique – Leftwich stands over six feet tall and weighs close to two-hundred pounds — he has been thrust into the spotlight. But Leftwich doesn’t cherish the fame that comes with his accolades.
“I’m not one of those people that likes to get attention, I'd just rather compete,” Leftwich said.
Leftwich appreciates more of what goes into the sporting event than what comes out of it. By not carrying an in-your-face cockiness that marks many others of his caliber, Leftwich is an anomaly.
“All he wants to do is do his very best every time. If that’s first place, that’s awesome. If it’s not, than he’s beaten his previous best, or something of that nature.” said Stewart Johnson, Hickman’s jump coach. Johnson and sprint coach Luke Neal have worked closely with Leftwich throughout his track career.
“I see his personality really come out when he is competing,” Johnson said. Along with being a fierce competitor, Johnson describes Leftwich as “being inquisitive and a student of his craft.”
It seems like unchartered territory for an athlete to combine a love for winning with an equal, if not greater, ability to remain humble. Leftwich shows this with how he responds when he doesn’t win.
“Instead of hanging his head and pouting like a lot of the kids his age might, losing seems to fuel his desire to make up for that setback,” Hickman head coach Steve Kissane said.
Such disappointment came last week at the sectional meet where Leftwich finished fifth in the 100-meter dash. Despite having the seventh fastest time in state, Leftwich missed the cut by .05 seconds.
“I was mad, but I’m just trying to focus on my three events this weekend,” said Leftwich, who is set to compete in the 4x200 and 4x100-meter relays and the long jump. His goal is to place in the top eight in all three events.
One of Leftwich’s foundations is his focus. He is so concentrated on football that he will be graduating a semester early from high school to enroll in classes at MU, meaning he will miss next year’s track season.
“We would like to have him back, but that is a plan that he has set,” Johnson said.
Though he has put so much into developing as a track athlete, not even a second-place finish this weekend could convince Leftwich to stay.
“I’ll always miss track, but I’m going to college to play football,” he said.
In the meantime, Leftwich is just concentrating on this week's meet. Competition is the appeal. More than anything Leftwich said, “I love to win.”