Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Chamberlain High's Dentarius Locke has gone faster and faster from the start

“People think I’m fast now,” Chamberlain High’s Dentarius Locke says, “but to me, that’s not good enough.”

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

“People think I’m fast now,” Chamberlain High’s Dentarius Locke says, “but to me, that’s not good enough.”

TAMPA — Dentarius Locke entered this world as bowlegged as can be.

When he was 3, they put braces on his legs.

Within a year, his legs were straight.

His father, Jesse, says it was like "magic."

So the little boy ran.

He ran so fast one time in elementary school, he tripped over a chair and fell flat on his face and cried.

"I knew then I was fast," he says.

Another time, in middle school, he raced the fastest kid in school and almost won. Might have, too, if he hadn't fallen again. Scraped his knees up pretty good.

He got faster and faster.

Then, he got fastest.

Dentarius Locke, the fastest high school kid in Florida.

Today, the Chamberlain High senior runs for a state championship, to break records, "to make people go wow," he says.

Those braces seem a long time ago. He has only vague memories of them, how they made him toss and turn in bed at night. But he remembers thinking of Forrest Gump when his dad told him the story, and look what Forrest Gump did.

Run, Dentarius, run.

• • •

Last week at regionals, Locke ran 100 meters in 10.31 seconds, the fifth-fastest time in the country this year.

He ran the 200 in 20.81, No. 1 in the nation.

And he can go faster.

He has to go faster.

"People think I'm fast now, but to me, that's not good enough."

His goal is not only to win the 100 a second straight year and add the 200 (he was second in 2008) as well but to leave jaws dropped on the floor.

"I want to get out so fast the race is over right away," he says — before the competitors even lift their heads.

The question doesn't seem to be so much will Locke win his races today but rather how quickly will he win his races.

Will he break Jeff Demps' meet record of 10.37 in the 100 set in 2007? Will he best Walter Dix's meet record of 20.62 in the 200 from 2004?

"I'm going to do a 10.24 and … a 20.44," Locke tells his coach, Hansford Johnson, and he's not kidding, even if a wide smile belies a little bit of the crazy in his prediction.

It is, after all, not easy to get faster when you're already this fast.

This is Locke's world, where success is measured in tiny increments, fractions so fleeting they can't be seen by the human eye nor accurately timed by a human hand.

Hundredths of seconds.

Bats of an eyelash.

"Everything," Locke says, "has to be perfect."

And Locke, a wisp at 5 feet 7, 150 pounds, has darn near been just that.

He has won every race this high school season, including county, district and region titles. He won the Florida Relays. He has been golden, just like the medals he hopes to win one day at the Olympics.

He credits Johnson and his father.

Since transferring from Riverview to Chamberlain after his sophomore year, Locke has steadily improved his times. Johnson tweaked some things in Locke's form, devised better workouts and smoothed the edges.

"Right from the beginning," Jesse says, "you could see the difference."

And that goes for the classroom as well. At Riverview, he was foundering academically, sleeping his way toward being ineligible for track.

He moved back in with Jesse, and that changed.

The rules changed. What happened when he broke them changed.

"There were consequences for my actions, and I needed that," Locke, 19, says. "I love him. I honestly don't know if I would be here without him."

He has signed with Tennessee and in the fall will become the first member of his immediate family to attend college.

It is this that Jesse enjoys most.

"I'm very proud of him," he says. "I brag about him to my co-workers on a fairly regular basis. But I'd be greatly disappointed if he turns out to be a gold medalist in the Olympics and goes on to be a successful athlete and turns out to be a bad guy."

Jesse says his son is just a normal kid, a little hardheaded and lazy but, otherwise, typical.

He is a gracious, gregarious and grinning speedster who used to work at McDonald's before quitting to focus on track. He loves greasy food, like Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and burgers. He likes washing it all down with pink lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid.

He spends his free time on the computer or watching television. He wanted to be a professional football player once — Bucs or Falcons would have been fine, he says — but now obsesses over track.

And even the quickest kid around has chores. Thursday after practice, he went home and helped his dad rake the lawn and fill a dozen black plastic bags with leaves.

Today, he will try to run into local lore.

Those leg braces, that bruised face and those tears, the scraped knees, they seem a long time ago.

Faster and faster.

Run, Dentarius, run.

TODAY

Class 4A state track meet

Format: Field events start at 1 p.m., running finals at 7. Trophies go to the team champion and runnerup. Medallions are awarded to the top eight individuals and relay teams.

Where: Showalter Field, Winter Park

Admission: $8

Chamberlain High's Dentarius Locke has gone faster and faster from the start 05/08/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 9, 2009 6:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  4. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  5. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]