hurdles at state a year ago. But his team has since been moved to
Division I. Somerville? He’s not sweating it. The only sweat he’s breaking is in practice.
Not Terrence Somerville.
The Akron Buchtel senior placed second in the Division II 110 high hurdles at state a year ago. But his team has since been moved to Division I. And though the premier hurdlers at that level are arguably no swifter than their Division II counterparts, there are a greater number of threats in Division I.
Somerville? He’s not sweating it. The only sweat he’s breaking is in practice. His primary concern is maximizing his own performance. He outran Dante Jackson of Greenfield McClain in the 110 high hurdles preliminaries last spring, but placed just behind him in the finals despite a time of 14.45.
He won’t have to worry about Jackson this time around. Instead, his primary competition could come from defending Division I state champion Tyshaun Peoples of Glenville, who blazed the cinders at 14.30 in taking the 2007 title. Michael Willey of Miamisburg is also considered a contender.
“I’m not the kind of guy who’s going to be leery of anybody,” says Somerville, who also competes in the long jump, 300 low hurdles and 4 x 400 relay. “I’m confident, but I know they’ll all give me a good race.”
The University of Cincinnati recruit began tearing up the track in fourth grade. He showed his stuff in a test of speed in the 50-yard “stop-and-sprint” in the school gym, which featured each participant racing to the end of the floor, placing a ball into a rubber ring, and sprinting back. He was already cooling his jets when most of his competition returned.
Somerville even broke the Akron city record for his age group in that event. And his success boosted his self-esteem, which, in turn, motivated him to work harder.
“It was practice, practice, practice,” he recalls. “But back then I wasn’t doing a whole lot of running, not like now. To be honest, it’s not a whole lot of fun. It’s more like my job now. It’s like a challenge. I like to challenge myself in a lot of things, like making sure I keep my grades up. But running is sort of like a job to me.”
Somerville deserves a raise. The slightly built speedster bypassed track in seventh grade due to a fear of the elevated competition at the middle school level. But he discovered the following year that he stacked up quite well. In fact, he was smoking his fellow hurdlers.
By the time he reached high school, his speed had become legendary. The football coach asked him on several occasions to join the team, but Somerville had dedicated himself to track and was already playing basketball as a means of staying in shape.
By his junior year, Somerville was receiving quite a bit of attention from Division I college programs, but he quickly narrowed down his choices to Michigan State, Ohio State and Cincinnati. Eventually, the latter made his decision rather easy.
“I never got a chance to visit Michigan State, so it was down to OSU and Cincinnati,” he explains. “OSU was cool, but Cincinnati really pushed for me. Their push was a lot stronger and they made me feel a whole lot more comfortable. I think they met me at a little bit more of a personal level than Ohio State did.”
Somerville is uncertain where his track talent will lead him from there. He expresses an openness to compete beyond the college level if his ability proves worthy of such an endeavor.
In the meantime, he plans on majoring in fire science and becoming a firefighter. It has been his goal ever since sixth grade, when a firefighter visited his class shortly after 9/11 and spoke about his profession.
Somerville, however, is now focusing on another task that, at least figuratively, relates to fire. That is, burning up the track in Columbus.