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Track column

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by RedHotChiliPrepper, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. This was a column I did during the first day of the state high school track meet. It was one of five stories I did that day. Column writing is something I've really begun to enjoy in the last 6-8 months and it's something I'd like to do more of, especially gameday type columns. Any feedback is great.

    And for what it's worth, Toledo beat Cope in the 100 finals the next day by .01. You'll understand when you get toward the bottom of the column.

    Central Columbia’s Cliff Toledo isn’t hesitant about saying where he wants to run track in college.
    Since the junior state champion sprinter heard Danville’s Andrew Cope will be running for Penn State next year, that’s where Toledo has been focused.
    It’s a vast difference from two years ago when the two had a noticeable tension between one another.
    At the time, Toledo was trying to prove that he was still the area’s top sprinter. Cope, fresh off a district title in the 100 after Bloomsburg’s Dane Grandizio was injured and Toledo was disqualified at districts, was still trying to prove himself as more than just an opportunistic champion.
    The debate rage can on two years later about who has proven himself as the area’s top sprinter. Toledo is the reigning state champ in the 200; Cope is the reigning silver medalist in the 100.
    It’s fair enough to call it a draw.
    But both racers, who have become good friends in the last year or so, are still looking for potentially one more head-to-head battle in today’s 100-meter finals.
    It’s a race the two have run head-to-head about a half-dozen times in the last year alone, each one more scrutinized than the last. But each one brings the same result: Congratulations for both the winner and the runner-up.
    “As soon as I got to know him and talk to him, he’s such a great person that it’s hard to get mad at him if he beats you,” Cope said of Toledo. “You can be like, ‘Aw man, I lost to (Toledo) ... but that’s OK.’ Because as soon as he crosses the finish line he turns around with a big smile saying, ‘Good job, good job.’ You can’t be mad at that.”
    The two runners posted the top two times (Toledo at 10.96, Cope at 11.03) in Friday’s 100 preliminaries. And it only seems fitting that Cope’s final individual race of his high school career would come against Toledo.
    Cope is trying to avenge last year’s loss in the 100 finals by .01. For him, winning the gold medal against a good friend — someone he had to beat too many times to prove himself on a local level — would be fitting.
    “It’s something to have fun with,” Toledo said. “He and I want to have as much fun as possible before we turn old and we’re racing each other in wheelchairs.”
    As each runner spoke of the other on Friday — Cope after his 400 relay team made a stirring comeback to win their heat and Toledo after the Jays’ shocking fifth-place finish in their 400 relay heat — the conversation unavoidably turned toward the future. Both would like nothing more than to be on the same team in college, which would likely have to be Penn State.
    “Could you imagine that (400 relay) team?” Cope said following the district meet last week. “Watch out Arkansas. Watch out Oregon.”
    But Toledo already considers Cope a teammate. He said he and Cope are running as teammates this weekend after hearing some trash talk from other competitors at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium, not only about the strength of the their running, but the strength of District 4 running as a whole.
    Toledo didn’t waste time talking back to his competitors. Instead he’s focusing his energy on doing everything he can to win the 100 today. And he’s doing whatever he can to make sure he and Cope beat the field.
    “Those kids are saying we’re nothing,” Toledo said. “That got us both irritated and now we’re going after them. Me and Cope are going to go one-two. I’m going to make sure we’ll dominate.”
    Cope and Toledo have staged their best duels when running with a purpose. But what greater purpose could there be than knowing it’ll likely be the last time they face off head-to-head.
    “I just hope the people enjoy the race as much as we enjoy running it against each other,” Cope said. “I hope the people get their money’s worth, because I know I am.”
  2. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    RHCP -

    Thanks for posting.

    While I understand that you were filing a ton of material on the day you wrote this, I'm going to address it as I would any other column.

    I believe any single column, to succeed, needs a very sharply focused point. I think this column wanders a bit, and feels diffuse, because you aren't strictly sure what your point is.

    Is it that rivalries can also create friendships? Or that rivalries make for better competition? Or that rivalries make strange bedfellows? All of these? None of these?

    Even in a space this small - perhaps especially in a space this small - a columnist needs to have a clear point of view, and a clear goal in mind for the piece. So try, even on a tight deadline, to decide what the central theme of the piece is going to be. The time you spend doing so pays off as you write, because you'll waste less time following weak, tangential ideas. It also pays dividends when you're doing your interviews, because you can get the subjects to speak to specific issues. In this case, for example, I'm still wondering exactly how they became friends. And how they make each other better runners.

    As a mechanical note, I think your lede has a lot of air in it - a lot of passive language. I suggested a very prosaic alternative above. Keep your ledes simple and declarative. You can lay out more detailed information lower down.

    Watch out for redundancies like 2x "head-to-head."

    You've got good quotes, so I'd move "As soon as I got to know him..." up nearer the top.

    Your closing quote is quite good.

    That's all I've got this morning. Hope it helps.

    Thanks again for sharing your work with us.
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