As a runner, Solomon Strader has an uncanny ability to maintain speed.
“Most people, they get up to a top speed and then they start to burn out,” said Trinity Classical Academy coach Brian Bixler. “Solomon has this amazing God-given ability just to maintain his muscular endurance over a lot stretch of time that most people just don’t have.”
A freshman representing Trinity at the CIF State Meet on Friday, it doesn’t appear Strader will burn out anytime soon.
At the CIF-Southern Section finals, he clocked 48.48 seconds in the 400-meter dash, which earned him second place in Division 4, as well as a bid to the Masters Meet.
There, he finished fifth with a time of 48.45. Now it’s on to state.
On Friday, he’ll run the 400 in prelims with the hope of making the cut for finals on the following day.
Strader never even wanted to run the 400-meter dash in the first place.
“One of my (Santa Clarita Storm) coaches said that I should try the 400 and I did not because I didn’t like the 400,” Strader said. “Four years ago, I did it and I hated it and so I never picked it up again.”
But two years ago, his attitude changed. He tore his hamstring and trained for the 400 throughout his recovery. He found out he was pretty good at it after all.
His abilities have taken him far, not just in the CIF, but also in the Junior Olympics. This past year, he trained from September until August preparing for the Sacramento event.
He placed second in his heat and eighth overall in the 400 in the championships.
Strader doesn’t think he’ll return to the Junior Olympics this year but is considering going back next year. His need to show his talents against Southern California athletes outweighs his desire to train for the national event.
“I think there’s a lot more competition in CIF, especially in California, because everyone’s fast and I know that,” he said. “I know I’m not the fastest and there’s been guys like me being the only freshman going and you have to do a lot more to prove your mark and say that you’re good.
“…I’d rather go to state for the next four years than go to Junior Olympics.”
If it weren’t for track, it’s likely Strader would be playing hockey. When he’s not training on the track or studying, he’s outside practicing some shooting.
“He showed up to practice wearing a Trinity Knights hockey uniform that he had made,” Bixler said. “All the gear and pads. I’m like, you know we’re running track?”
Strader favors the San Jose Sharks and the Stanley Cup-contending Nashville Predators, the latter of which he has found some common ground with.
“The Stanley Cup Finals, the goal isn’t just to go there — even though it’s the first time Nashville has ever gone there. It’s to win,” Strader said.
Trinity's Solomon Strader comes in second in the Division 4 boys 400. Time was 48.48 seconds. pic.twitter.com/3jtrbKeA6E
— Haley Sawyer (@haleymsawyer) May 20, 2017
“So I’m excited that I’m going (to state) and that I made it there and I’ve done a lot to get there, a lot of tough practices, but the ultimate goal is to be done on Saturday, not Friday.”
Come Friday, clad in a Trinity backpack with the name “Lord Vader” embroidered on the back of it, Strader will warm up in his usual way.
He’ll listen to his playlist that includes songs from “The Dark Knight,” “Inception,” “Interstellar” and even the Disney animated movie, “Up.” And of course, there’s the theme song from NBC’s NHL Rivalry Night and some choice cuts from the video game NHL17.
He’ll take a moment to pray with Bixler. Then he’ll take to the track for a quick pirouette on his spikes, flex his toes, then take off at the sound of the starting gun.
And he won’t slow down.