Century senior Julian Woods doesn't have time to reflect on his sensational four-year career or think ahead to graduating and running at Mount St. Mary's next year.
There's no time for that right now.
Woods, who owes a large part of his success to his diligent preparation, is focused on helping the No. 1 Knights win the program's first boys outdoor track and field state championship starting Thursday at Morgan State.
Century dominated the Class 2A West region last weekend — with Woods once again taking the lead role — defeating second-place Liberty by a 174.5-83.5 margin.
An All-Metro first-team last spring and again in this year's indoor track season, Woods placed first in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, the long jump, and was part of the Knights' winning 800 relay team at the regional meet.
"It looks perfect, honestly," he said about the chances of winning Century's first boys outdoor track and field state title. "It's right where we want it to be."
Last spring, Woods won an individual state title in the 300 hurdles and finished second in the 110 hurdles and high jump. In February at the indoor track state championships, he won the 55 hurdles as the Knights placed first in the Class 2A team standings.
Maintaining a 3.6 grade point average, Woods has a summer internship as a dental assistant, and he would like to become an orthodontist.
Following your performance at the regional meet, how ready is the team to win a state title?
We did a lot of what we were supposed to do — we're sending a lot of people to states, which is great. A lot of us got pretty close to our [personal records], if we didn't [reach them], and we're feeling pretty confident going in this week. Right now, we're just pretty determined. We've done very well this season, we did well in the indoor season and we just want to make sure we finish strong and not lose sight of things.
What's the feeling like as your high school career is coming to an end?
I don't think it's hit me yet, but I'm sure it will after states — I just want to continue doing what I'm doing. I have my goals that I want to hit. I've won the 300 hurdles the past two years, but I haven't won long jump — I finished second in that last year — and I also finished second in the 100 [hurdles]. And my freshman year, we got second in [800 relay], and I've always wanted that. Right now, we're second in the state in that. It's going to be a close race — there's a lot of schools right there — so that's a big one for me.
What have you learned about yourself through your success in running?
I think I've become more of a leader through running. I definitely grew a lot more confidence. I'm still kind of quiet, a more contained person, but it's let me be a leader. I kind of lead by example, and I also understand how to work with other people to get a job done. It's understanding that we're all working as a part of a team.
How do you apply your discipline in running to other facets of life?
The main thing for me is respect. I have a lot of respect for this team, and when I go to the classroom or go to work or really anything, it's the same thing. You can't get the job done without respect.
How are you different now than when you first started your track career as a freshman?
When I came here as a freshman, I was talented and I helped out the team in that way, but I wasn't a leader. I became one starting in my sophomore year, and the leaders from my freshman year showed me how to be a leader. Some of them were the most talented kids and some of them weren't — they were more just natural leaders. So I learned from all of them and really understood how I wanted to lead.
You pride yourself on working hard in practice. How important has that been to you and the team's success?
Practice is so important. The team has to be completely focused on practice, especially during the championship part of the season. We're all working to get better, all working hard to be better than the previous years and previous meets. It's huge for us, making sure handoffs are always good, our starts get better and better, and we don't make any little mistakes.
What's one thing nobody knows about you?
I'm extremely competitive. I guess you have to be in track, so I don't know if it's really a surprise. I don't like getting beat. I won't be mad about it to another person or be cocky if I win. But when I get beat, I like to race that person again to make sure I don't lose again.
How did you decide on Mount St. Mary's?
I wanted to stay close, and I wanted to focus on school. One of the biggest things I knew was I wanted to run in college and wanted to go to a D-I school where I knew even if that school wasn't in the top conference that the division would still be competitive.