Harris, Warren helping Admirals to the top

Published 8:48 am Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Don Harris and Jaleel Warren are unique athletes.

The two combined to score heaps of points for Danville on the football field in the fall. Harris placed third in the state wrestling tournament over the winter season, while Warren was helping Danville basketball to its first region tournament since 2011.

Now, they’re on the track and field team, searching for another ring.

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The Admirals are ranked No. 1 in Class A the latest track and field rankings, compiled by Milesplit based on best performances of the season.

Harris and Warren alone could place a team in the top eight of Class A: Warren could score points in the shot put and both long and triple jumps for the Admirals at state, while Harris creates a different challenge for head coach Chris Verhoven.

Harris could compete in both throws, the 100, 200, 4×100 or 4×200 and score points at state.

So what’s Harris going to compete in at region and state?

“I really like competing in anything, anything that makes me want to work more,” Harris said. “Like when I’m running against somebody else, I just want to pass them. That makes me want to be faster than them.”

That’s why Harris enjoys the 4×100 and 4×200 relays the most: He’s the go-to guy on the curve for both relays simply because he wants to pass that next guy.

“I feel like I can compete more in the relays,” Harris said. “It’s fun to run, seeing how far away I am from someone and trying to catch them. I love running the curve on that 4×2 and 4×1.”

Harris said his two other sports, football and wrestling, have really helped him in his spring sport.

“Football helped a lot, we weightlifted, back and forth running, all that,” he said. “Wrestling, it helps you stay balanced for throws.”

Verhoven said that it’s incredible to see what Warren and Harris have accomplished in all three sports — playing and excelling in all three.

“I think that any time that you’re a multisport athlete, it’s amazing to watch the transition they make,” the coach said. “As good as they are at football, just days later they’re on the court. Jaleel is contributing on the basketball court. The transition from hitting people to the nuances of basketball, then going from that and taking two days off to do track. Who knows what Jaleel could do if he stayed with one sport for a longer period of time. Same thing with Don. Football to wrestling, straight into indoor track. They were sitting there in February getting ready for track. Jaleel won indoor, Don got second. They transition and excel.”

Harris also sports a 11.34 second time in the 100 meter dash, which would almost certainly score at state. Teammate D’Mauriae VanCleave has the Class A leading time at 11.14 seconds, set on Friday at the Blue Raider Rumble at Lindsey Wilson College.

In back-to-back invitationals, meet officials have missed Harris on throws because he was doing running events, Verhoven said. At the Blue Raider Rumble, Verhoven asked meet officials to turn on car lights to allow Harris to compete in the discus, and he placed second.

“He threw in the dark using headlights,” Verhoven said. “A guy that is a sprinter almost got penalized for throwing. He’s one of the best discus guys in the state, he’s also our leadoff for the 4×1 and nearly broke the school record. If that’s not unique, I don’t know what is.”

Harris and Warren are unique because you don’t see many other athletes in the state compete in their events — not many sprinters could throw the shot put like Harris (season-best 46 feet, 2.5 inches), not many throwers could post an 11.34 mark in the 100. Same with Warren — he’s jumping near 20 feet in the long jump and 40 feet in the triple jump, while throwing shot (44 feet, 7 inches season best).

Are there any athletes that do what they do?

“No, not really,” Harris said. “I’m not trying to be braggy but me being big and strong helps me running and shot. I’m strong with my first couple of steps starting out.”

Warren’s events take a different kind of stamina.

“As impressive as running and throwing is, the balance of field events, to check in and check out between the three events (Warren) does, it takes a lot of mental discipline to do that,” Verhoven said. “That whole skillset is so different. Speed and explosion in jumps, then the shot is just pure strength. It’s difficult. The uniqueness of those two, what a cool dynamic duo they are.”

Harris has been throwing since sixth grade, and he and Warren have been competing since day one together.

“We’re just back and forth,” Harris said. “We’re equal strength, he’s taller than me so he gets that advantage. But we’re best friends, we’re back and forth all day. We love competing against each other. I’ll tell him, ‘you’ll get second, I’m getting first.’ We’re just back and forth like that.”

Warren said that comes from them growing up together.

“Me and Don, we’re second cousins, grew up together. I’ve known him my whole life, he’s probably my best friend,” Warren said. “We grew up together, we play sports together. That’s made us really close. We’ll be roommates in college, too.”

Both of them agree that Warren is the better jumper. But they disagree on speed — Harris said he’s faster.

“On his good day,” Warren laughed. “It depends. I say on his good day. I can easily outjump him though, on my bad days I can jump higher than him.”

On Friday, the two got to see where they’d be spending next year at Lindsey Wilson College. The two have committed to play football for the Blue Raiders.

“It was real good, it was basically seeing what we’d be doing when we go there next year,” Warren said. “We might run track there. It was just a mini preview.”

The Blue Raider Rumble might’ve been a preview of what’s to come for the Admirals in the track and field postseason, too: Danville was decisive on the boys side, winning by more than 30 points over second-place Pulaski County.

“I really want to get a state ring on the boys side,” Harris said. “We had the potential to do that last year but people didn’t come out.”

There’s competition across the board for the Admirals in practice — Chase Tandy and Zach Thornton compete in the 400, Tanner Ford, Brennan McGuire and Gabe McKnight are all sprinters capable of scoring. And that’s not including McKnight’s contributions on the hurdles — he won both on Friday.

“Us having more people out here is a big help this year, that’ll give us the chance to get another ring,” Warren said. “If everybody comes out and works hard we can make that dream come true.”