By TIM WEISBERG email@example.com
Michael Medeiros always knew he was fast, but until he got on the track he didn't realize just how fast he is.
When we played basketball or dodge ball in gym class I was usually faster than the other kids, said Michael, a 12-year-old city resident. But I was never asked to join the school track and field program or anything.
That may change after Michael's recent performance at the state level of the Hershey's Track and Field meet.
The Hershey's Track and Field Program was created more than 30 years ago to promote youth physical fitness and provide fun learning experiences for children 9 to 14 years old, according to the program's website. The New Bedford Recreation Department sponsored the local event, which has seen its participation grow steadily over the past few years.
Yet speed is nothing new for Michael. He plays baseball for AFC Cable of the South End Youth Athletic Association, and his coaches have nicknamed their quick outfielder Wheels.
His coach was telling us one day how he's such a good runner, his mother, Sandy Medeiros, said. A couple of days after that I saw a pamphlet about the Hershey's Meet and thought, 'Let's try it.'
Michael excelled at the 100 meter dash and won the local meet, held at New Bedford High's Paul Walsh Field back in early June. That earned him a spot in the state meet at Nashoba Regional High School in Bolton back on June 26. There, he came in second with a time of 14.54, just behind Quincy's Mike McNelley (14.43).
We told him to just run his little heart out, Sandy said. They use automatic timing at the meet, and he was just one-tenth of a second away from making it to the Nationals at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. But we're just so proud of him. He's a shy kid, but he excels at whatever he puts his mind to.
I didn't think I could do it, Michael said. I was losing for most of the race, but then I sped up at the end to come in second.
Although Michael's first love is baseball he's hoping to try track and field at Normandin when he enters seventh grade this fall. Michael's father, Robert, is a fisherman and spends a great deal of time away from home. Sandy said activities like sports, skateboarding and playing the trumpet at Normandin keep Michael busy and help fill the time when his father is away.
Other New Bedford-area youngsters took place in the meet in Bolton as well. Cassie White placed sixth in the girls 11-12 softball throw (93-06) and 10th in both the girls 11-12 long jump (5-11) and the 200 meter dash (33.53). Tyler DeMello finished 10th in the boys 13-14 200 meter dash (34.29), and Olivia Ramsey placed 11th in the girls 11-12 100 meter dash (15.59).
Tim Weisberg covers youth and participatory sports for The Standard-Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.