He may have gotten a late start, but it hasn’t stopped Rock Island sprinter Courtney Lindsey from achieving plenty on the track.
A year ago, in his first year on the track team as a sophomore, Lindsey won two Class 3A state medals as a member of the Rocks' fourth-place 400 and 800 relay teams.
This year, he’s undefeated so far in the 100 and 200 meters, including wins at the Shipley Invitational and United Township Kiwanis Invite.
Lindsey’s making a name for himself as a junior, Rock Island coach Ed Lillis said.
“He may have flown under the radar (last year). We had those three seniors that he ran with, Tyler Foulks, Doug Wilson and Andre McKinney,” Lillis notes. “He was an underclassmen.”
The trio was plenty helpful, especially Foulks.
“That was a good experience with Tank (Foulks),” Lindsey said. “That really helped me a lot. That was great because I didn’t know anything about track.”
There's another sport he does know a lot about. It's not football, though coaches are still trying to get the 5-foot-10, 152-pounder to go out for the team not just because of his speed, but also his toughness.
Lindsey has definitely proven he's tough as a four-time state Silver Gloves boxing champion in the 152-pound weight class. Lindsey has been in the ring since he was 9 when his mother's boyfriend, Ramsey Vesey, got him to give the sport a try. It’s not only worked out in the ring with Lindsey joining the Rock Island Boxing Club, but it also worked out outside the ring as Vesey is now married to his mom, LaRonadia.
Boxing and track have co-existed well for Lindsey.
Boxing keeps him in shape for track with its own running schedule, rope-jumping and hitting the bag.
“It helps me a lot,” Lindsey says of the boxing work, “but track practice helps even more.”
Boxing also may have given him a bit of an edge in terms of his competitiveness.
“My instinct is to keep pushing,” he says.
Lillis recalled at the Shipley Invite how a dropped baton earlier in the race buried Lindsey in the back of the pack in the 800 relay. When Lindsey got the baton, he came all the way back to get second and came close to finishing first.
“Some of that I am sure comes from how tenacious you have to be in the boxing ring,” Lillis said. “He is kind of similar to that on the track. He’s competitive.
“He’s a great closer,” Lillis added.
That comeback was a credit to his competitive juices, Lindsey says.
“I hate losing,” he said.
He is super competitive with long-range goals of turning pro in boxing someday and also going to college and competing in track.
It all adds up to a great athlete to work with, Lillis says.
“Courtney is just a great kid to be around,” the coach said. “He was really quiet last year, just being an underclassman with the three seniors. But this year there’s more of a verbal assertiveness. And he’s more of an upperclassman kind of leader. He leads by example the best. That’s his real strength.”
Remembering last year, Lindsey is hoping to take his new teammates to the Eastern Illinois University track for the state meet this spring.
“It’s motivated me to being bring my new relay team back to do the same thing,” he says, “or even do better.”