Freshman sprinter Kadejhia Sellers adjusts from basketball to indoor track
With a layup, Kadejhia Sellers had scored her 1000th career point for Manchester (New Jersey) Regional High School. The crowd exploded with applause and gave her a standing ovation. Only two girls in school history had achieved that feat before.
When head coach Dave Sposato took over the Manchester program in 2008, it hadn’t won a game in three years. By Sellers’ senior year, she led the Falcons to a 13-13 record, missing the state playoffs by one win, and she broke the school’s point record.
“She was by far the best player on the team right away,” said Sposato. “She had that unbelievable desire to improve and she created a hard-working culture. She elevated our program significantly.”
As a freshman sprinter for Syracuse, she finished with the best 200-meter time in program history of 23.9 seconds at the Boston Valentine Invitational on Feb. 12-13. Despite never racing indoor track, Sellers has emerged as a huge contributor for Syracuse as a freshman.
She’s made a habit of picking things up quickly, from joining the basketball team, to learning to throw discus and now learning the nuances of running indoor track.
“We thought it would take a while for her to transition from outdoor to indoor,” sprinting coach Dave Hegland said. “But she’s been absolutely fantastic.”
Sellers moved to Haledon, New Jersey from South Carolina her sophomore year of high school. She approached Sposato, also her guidance counselor, about trying out for basketball. She helped change the culture of what was once a winless squad.
Sposato, who coaches the throwing team, said Sellers never lost a race until the final state meet. On one occasion, she walked up to Sposato and asked how to throw discus. He quickly showed Sellers, who almost broke the school record on her first throw.
“She was something special,” said Sposato. “She could’ve succeeded in any sport.”
Now, Sellers is adjusting on the track. In high school, she played basketball instead of running indoor track. The transition did not occur immediately and Sellers struggled initially. Indoor tracks are 200 meters while outdoor tracks are 400. The indoor track’s corners are much tighter, requiring the runner’s body to turn more often. That makes it tougher on the body and takes time to adjust to.
“My problem was learning how to cut into the inner lanes quickly,” Sellers said. “In practice, the coaches encouraged me to cut inside quickly but it took time.”
It was not until the 200-meter dash at the Armory Invitational when Sellers had a breakthrough. Her roommate and teammate Tia Thevenin said Sellers was guided by senior Rebecca Robinson throughout the race. Sellers increased her pace toward the end and finished sixth overall with a time of 24.49 seconds.
Sellers was initially recruited as a 400-meter runner. But after finishing second in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.54 at the Cornell Indoor Upstate Challenge, her aptitude for running shorter sprints became apparent. Sellers’ impressive times to start the season made it clear she adjusted well.
Hegland said Sellers’ increased focus on track at Syracuse was instrumental in her adjustment and improvements. Sellers’ indoor season came to an end after she placed 13th in the 200-meter dash at the ACC Championships.
“I wasn’t shocked at all by her early success,” teammate Freddie Crittenden said. “Her times are a product of her mindset. Even before she got here, she was watching videos about track, looking up inspiring quotes, and constantly studying the sport.”
Published on March 11, 2016 at 10:33 pm
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