SOUTH HADLEY, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Western Massachusetts is now home to the fastest high schooler in the Commonwealth. Jonas Clarke, a rising senior at South Hadley High School, has been breaking records left and right since he took up the sport and the best part about it is that he stumbled into it completely by accident, rising to success without access to an outdoor track.
It all started with a toss-up.
“I was gonna go into basketball, but a couple of my friends were like ‘Yo, you should run track,’” Clarke explained.
It turns out that track was the best decision he ever made. After taking up the sport just a few years ago, he ran the fastest freshman 100 meter dash the state has seen in the last 10 years and now, Clarke said, “I run the fastest automatic time in Massachusetts history, but the state record is actually a hand time.”
That’s because it was set back in 1981. According to the MIAA, the Massachusetts state record for the 100-meter dash is 10.4 seconds. Clarke runs it in 10.45 seconds.
“The goal is by the time I graduate, I’m going to break that state record,” Clarke added.
His school doesn’t even have an outdoor track.
“With this whole pandemic, it’s kind of hard to find resources…We haven’t had a track. You know, as a sprinter, you need the track more to work out on, so it’s really hard to find places to run,” Clarke noted.
While possible neighboring communities have offered their spaces, training all-around has still been tough.
“It’s also hard to find people, especially in the pandemic to work out with and it’s really hard working out alone, so it was a lot,” Clarke said.
Nonetheless, he’s determined to shave off those 0.05 seconds and not only is he fast on the track, but he accelerates academically as well.
“Balancing is just something that’s just, you know, you have to do as a student-athlete,” Clarke said.
With a 3.92 GPA and entering his last year of high school, “I don’t want to, you know, say I wanna be a professional runner right here and right now, but if it’s definitely in my shot when I’m in college, I’m definitely going to take it,” Clarke explained.
He plans to continue running competitively throughout college while majoring in engineering, but has yet to settle on an institution at this time.