Bartlett High School track coach Kris Harmon acknowledges that senior stalwart Robert Wingo is inexperienced. He admits it’s Wingo’s first year of high school track and because of that the senior is far behind many of his opponents in understanding proper form and technique.
Coach Kris Harmon also knows something else – Robert Wingo is an athlete with the right attitude and coupling that natural athletic ability with speed and dedication has made him a potential state title contender in the decathlon, track’s most challenging event.
“He’s had some brutal days in practice,” Harmon said of his one-year wonder. “He started on the hurdles because I put my best athletes out there to see if they can manage it.”
Wingo, with an unorthodox gate over the high hurdle standards, managed it and more.
“I don’t give up,” the soft-spoken senior says.
The son of Robert and Suzette Wingo, Memphis’s top decathlon athlete credits Coach Harmon for lighting the fire.
“Now all I want to do is run,” Wingo said with a smile.
Last week in the Wingo ran and a lot more.
Competing in the West Tennessee sectional decathlon, Wingo stitched together a series of personal bests to knock off Collierville’s Josh Wheeler and White Station’s Anthony Young.
Wingo scored a meet high 5741 points capturing first in the 100 meter dash, 110-meter hurdles and shot put; second in the pole vault and 400-meter dash, fifth in the discus and long jump; ninth in the triple jump, and fifteenth in the 1500-meter run.
“That was a tough one for him” Coach Harmon admitted. “He had such a big lead we told him just to be patient, let them (the other runners) go out and not panic. They had to beat him by something like 20 seconds so he just kind of paced himself,” Harmon explained.
Wingo nods in agreement, recalling his first state qualifying competition.
Admitting to being a struggling student, Wingo believes track can be his ticket to college and his coach agrees.
“Robert struggled in the classroom but he’s working hard to make up for his early efforts,” Harmon said.
“I’m trying to do extra credit,” he said his smile turning serious. “I’m doing everything they’re giving me.”
Wearing a white hoodie and carrying a Sponge Bob backpack, Robert Wingo is serious about winning but hasn’t lost sight of what’s important.
“I like to win but I like meeting the athletes, other good athletes too,” Wingo said about what he enjoys most of his new-found sport.
While Wingo has earned his trip to Crump Stadium at Central High School, he’s far from through.
“He can be competitive in the 300 hurdles, the 100 meters and maybe the triple jump,” Coach Harmon said.
Robert Wingo knows it’s going to be fun.