The Grovetown senior had already won the 100- meter title, but an injury left him in pain before the 200 final, which he won in 2013. He called Warriors coach Rodney Tyson, who gave him the little push he needed to power through.
Watkins, who became the first Grovetown athlete to win a state championship when he won the 200 as a junior, proceeded to double up this year by winning the 100- and 200-meter races in Class AAAAA at the state meet. He’s also The Augusta Chronicle All-Area Boys Track Athlete of the Year.
“He told me, ‘You came this far, made it to the finals – your championship,’ ” Watkins said of his coach. “ ‘Do you want to be the guy who didn’t even step on the track?’ ”
“I’m very glad I made that phone call,” Watkins said. “I probably would have walked off the track.”
Watkins can now look back regret-free, knowing his 10.49 seconds in the 100 and his 21.27 sprint in the 200 were enough to take both titles. In 2013, he won the 200 (22.24) and came in the third in the 100 (11.18).
The Virginia Tech signee said the biggest change came in the 100. He had to get technically better in the race, particularly with the first 60 meters. He had to improve with pushing off the track during that stretch if he wanted to drop times.
Through repetition, he did just that.
“Your body does in competition what it does in practice,” Watkins said. “Eventually it became muscle memory.”
Watkins’ repeated motions included the pre-race routine. For breakfast, he eats oatmeal with bananas and orange juice. He also brings a gallon of water and listens to the same 35 songs every meet. He takes 45 minutes to an hour to warm up. After a cool-down period, he warms up again for 15 minutes. Only then is it time to race, and when it’s time, he’s prepared to win.
“It was a great experience, knowing that keeping my faith in God and working hard every single day, every training period, that I could get better, and the possibility that if I work hard today, I could possibly be the best later,” Watkins said. “It all came together at state.”