Wood River's Mike Young
Mike Young can’t run away from his drive to compete.
Young, 52 of Wood River, has been associated with track and field since before he can remember. He began his running career in junior high school and the rest is history. He’s been running ever since with no sign of slowing down, even as Father Time begins to knock at his door.
“When I turned 50, I saw an advertisement on television for the Senior Olympics,” Young said.
“I thought it looked like great incentive to stay in shape, so I began to train and I signed up for four events.”
When Young made the trip to the Illinois Senior Olympics in Springfield, he had no idea he would be coming home with two gold and two silver medals.
“I run against high school and college kids,” Young said. “That’s what keeps me at the level I’m at.”
Young remains active with East Alton-Wood River High School, his alma mater, occasionally announcing basketball games during the winter and running in the Summer Series with EA-WR High School track and field and cross country coach Russ Colona.
He qualified in Springfield for the men’s Senior Olympic Nationals in Cleveland in July 2013.
As he trained for the 100-meter finals and the long jump, it seemed as if the sprint might be his chance to place. However, he instead qualified in the long jump.
“Lo and behold, I qualified in the long jump for the finals,” he said. “I just figured if I got to the top twenties I would have accomplished something.”
For his final event, Young put together a relay team, on the fly, in Cleveland consisting of four men that independently qualified for the nationals.
“Our relay team consisted of a guy from Seattle, Washington, a guy from New York and a guy from Atlanta, Georgia,” Young said. “We had 10 minutes to train with one another and we won a national championship.”
Young said he was overwhelmed by the outcome.
“I made the finals in the 50-yard dash and ended up third in the nation,” he said. “Then I ended up sixth in the nation on long jump.”
Plagued by injuries at Nationals, Young still made a strong showing, one good enough to get his name on the sign coming into Wood River.
Regardless of Young’s age, his drive to compete has persisted throughout his life.
“I don’t think I will ever run away from my drive to compete,” Young said.