Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Paxon Speedster Proves His Point; Lankford Wins 100-Meter Dash, Says Athletes Don't Have to Attend "Neighborhood Powerhouse" to Excel

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Paxon Speedster Proves His Point; Lankford Wins 100-Meter Dash, Says Athletes Don't Have to Attend "Neighborhood Powerhouse" to Excel

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT

When Paxon's Ryan Lankford finished first in the 100-meter dash in Saturday's 46th annual Bob Hayes Invitational Track and Field Meet at Raines High School, Lankford did more than just win a race.

Lankford sent out a twofold message: He's one of the fastest high school runners in the city, and you don't have to attend a school with a strong athletic history to be a top performer.

The latter is a message that Lankford has been trying to get across throughout the Jacksonville area for the past four years.

"I want people to know that academic schools are not just academic-based," he said. "The athletes can run and jump and are just as smart as you are. They can play sports, be great athletes and still be smart in the classroom.

"That's the message I've been trying to spread my whole life, being at Paxon all four years. That's been my ultimate goal, to say, 'You can do it. You don't have to go to your neighborhood powerhouse school to be successful. You can stay at the nerd school and get the job done.' "

Lankford doesn't have to prove himself on the football field. He earned a spot on this year's Times-Union's All-First Coast Team as the punter after averaging 45.3 yards a kick. He could have made the list as wide receiver as well after he scored 17 touchdowns.

Because of his speed and pass-catching, a number of colleges took an interest in him. He eventually elected to continue the pipeline at the University of Illinois, which has attracted a number of Jacksonville area football players in recent years.

Lankford said that he would likely major in some type of business management or a multimedia broadcast field. Lankford has a 3.0 grade-point average at Paxon.

"I think I've now earned my attention," Lankford said, moments after defeating an elite group of sprinters. "Up until now, it's been a big battle just for me mentally to say, 'Work your hardest because someone will look at you. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.