As teenagers sometimes do, Kolby Mitchell gave into peer pressure.
This peer pressure, however, was for a positive endeavor. Mitchell’s friends persuaded him to join the track team at Columbus East last year.
“All my friends did it, and I had never done it before and I wanted to try it,” he said.
Mitchell, his teammates and coaches are glad he did. After not competing in any sports in middle school or as a freshman, he helped the Olympians to a Hoosier Hills Conference title last season.
Then in the postseason, Mitchell finished fifth in the sectional and made it all the way to the regional finals in the 100 meters.
“I was very surprised and very shocked at myself,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t know I was that fast. I didn’t know I could ever be a sprinter.”
Mitchell played basketball and baseball growing up. But he was cut from the seventh-grade basketball team at Northside Middle School.
Thinking he might be fast, he gave track a try as a sophomore last year.
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“I kind of had a decent idea,” Mitchell said. “I thought I might be (fast), but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t think I could keep up with everyone else in high school because there’s a lot of fast people out there. But I was happy with my first year last year and how well I’ve done this year.”
Last year, Mitchell ran personal bests of 11.2 seconds in the 100 and 23.7 in the 200. He’s improved those marks to 11.1 and 23.4 this season.
Coaches were so unfamiliar with Mitchell when he came out for the team last season that they weren’t sure what events to try him in. They quickly settled on the 100 and 200.
“I didn’t know Kolby last year coming into track season,” East boys head coach Dave Miller said. “He had never been in any other sports (in high school) and had never done track before, so having him come out was a big surprise. He worked hard throughout the season and improved his time and had a great showing in the conference last year.”
A wrist injury and allergies slowed Mitchell a little at the beginning of this season. But he’s recovered the past couple of weeks to get where he needs to be to compete in the conference and sectional.
Tonight, the Olympians will try to defend their HHC title at Madison.
“I think we have a pretty good chance,” Mitchell said. “In each category, we’ve gotten a lot better and stronger, so I think we’ll put up a pretty good fight against all the other teams in our conference.”
Mitchell finished third in the 100 at the HHC meet, fifth in the sectional and ninth in the regional last season. His goal is to finish in the top three in the regional, which would earn him a spot in the state meet.
This year, Mitchell also is running the 4×100 relay for East.
“I just want to continue to get faster, and my all-time goal is to make it to state in the 100 and 4×100 and have our team win conference again,” Mitchell said.
What: Hoosier Hills Conference boys track and field meet
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: Madison High School
Teams: Columbus East, Jennings County, Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, Madison, New Albany, Seymour