Two-sport star at Evans has busy stretch ahead

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When he broke the two-minute mark in the 800-meter run earlier this year, William Wren was surprised when he looked back at the number of seconds it took him to cover the two laps around the Statesboro, Ga., track.

William Wren has come close to breaking the school record at Evans in the 400- and 800-meter races. The 6-foot-4, 155-pound senior has also scored 21 goals as a forward on the soccer team.   Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
William Wren has come close to breaking the school record at Evans in the 400- and 800-meter races. The 6-foot-4, 155-pound senior has also scored 21 goals as a forward on the soccer team.

He was amazed to find he had run the first lap slower than the second lap, a rare breakdown runners refer to as a negative split.

"You're not supposed to negative-split that run," Wren said.

Wren has made tough things like this seem routine this spring at Evans as a senior member of both the soccer and track teams. Wren, though, is more than just a placeholder on each team -- he is excelling in both sports at the same time.

He will attempt to break the school record in the 400 and 800 meters in May -- those are two of the most grueling events in track -- and has scored a team-best 21 goals for the school's soccer team even though he did not play an attacking position until its fifth game.

Wren is heading into one of the most challenging stretches of a season that would test even the most active person's motor. The Knights soccer team opens the playoffs Tuesday night at home against Statesboro, and the region track meet begins five days later.

"He hasn't really been fresh," said Mike Lennox, who coaches the distance and intermediate runners on the Evans track team. "He doesn't build up his body, he breaks it down. What's going to happen when he actually rests? That's going to be interesting, because he's really going to light it up."

Lennox estimates Wren is operating at 80 percent capacity at every track meet, yet he has still come within roughly a combined single second of breaking the school record in the 400 and 800. His times are 50.68 (.05 seconds off the school record) and 1:59.66 (.9 seconds off), respectively.

Wren, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 155 pounds, said he will be aiming for the school record in the 800 at the state meet, which is May 13-15 in Jefferson. It will be difficult to set the mark at the region meet, he said, because the 400 and 800 are ordered so close together.

"Have you ever seen the movie Seabiscuit ?" Lennox said. "He gets out a little slower, then attacks toward the end. He's got a long stride that starts eating up real estate. He's taking one step when everyone else is taking two."

Wren has pushed himself to participate in both sports in part so he can spend time with his brothers. His family moved here from Hawaii last summer -- Wren is one of five sons of a large Army family and says he has moved eight times -- and the Wrens made up more than a quarter of the Knights' starting lineup early in the year. Two of his four younger brothers, freshman Max and junior Zak, are also on the varsity team.

"If we had gone to any other school, we probably all wouldn't have been able to play on the same (varsity) team; Lakeside and Greenbrier all have more depth," Wren said. "It has been a pretty cool experience."

Wren played sweeper on his club soccer team in Hawaii and at Kapolei High School, to the west of downtown Honolulu. He started at that position earlier in the year at Evans, when the team struggled to score. The Knights managed only one goal in their first four games, which included a 2-0 loss to Lakeside in a game that decided the Region 3-AAAA crown.

"We were dominating teams, possession-wise, we just weren't scoring," coach Brian Killips said. "We were getting frustrated. We thought: why not give him a shot?"

Wren arrived late to a game at Butler on March 3 because of track meet. Killips inserted him at forward, and he scored the first time he touched the ball, off a header.

He has scored 20 more goals since that game to remain among the area leaders.

Track again forced him to be late to a game later that month against Richmond Academy. Not feeling fresh, he warned coaches he might not be up to full speed. Coaches marveled when Wren breezed by everyone for a goal.

"Then he came out and apologized for not working hard," Killips said.

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