Ewing High School senior Chinedu Amonu started running track in eighth grade. His coaches and friends tried to persuade him to keep up with the sport once he reached high school, but he decided to set it aside in favor of basketball.
When he didn’t make the team, though, he started looking for something that would keep him active.
“I thought I’d go out for the track team,” he said. “It turned into something I really wanted to focus on.”
Instead of getting down on himself, Amonu chose to put his energy into something he could succeed at. He started running track during his sophomore year.
“I realized that it was something I was good at,” he said. “I wanted to continue just to see how far I could go. I wanted to be one of the state’s best. That’s been a goal of mine for before I graduate, and it’s definitely a big reason why I started again.”
He has definitely seen that objective through so far. Amonu was one of Ewing’s most successful athletes during the winter sports season, capturing Group II titles in both the 55 and 400. This season, he’s hoping to ride the momentum from the indoor season and win the 100, 200, 400, and 4×4 titles at the Meet of Champions.
“I want to achieve more than what I achieved in the indoor season,” he said. “At last year’s Meet of Champs, I came up short. I want first place this year.”
Blue Devils track and field head coach Ed Dutch said that is entirely possible for Amonu.
“He just has a lot of talent,” Dutch said. “He can go out and run any event from the 100 to the 800. He can place for the team in most events, which is a great thing to have.”
Dutch said Amonu’s versatility is particularly beneficial to a smaller team like Ewing.
“It’s nice to be able to put him in a variety of different events and know that he’s going to place and score,” he said. “With our small numbers, we need to rely on a small group of athletes to do the majority of the scoring. He always goes out and scores points.”
Dutch recalled a moment from earlier in the season. Amonu was penciled in to run in three different events, all of which he won. The entire meet ended up coming down to the final relay race.
“He asked me if he could be in it because he wanted to help the team win,” Dutch said.
“He is a very hard worker. That was a perfect example of his attitude. That goes toward the type of person he is. I definitely think a lot of his teammates notice when he does things like that, and they follow his lead,” said Dutch.
Amonu said he just wants to do what’s best for the team.
“I just want to win and at the same time try to get some of the best times in the state,” he said.
“I want to help my team out and do whatever I can for us to win and come close to a team championship. A team title is definitely one of my goals,” said Amonu.
One of Amonu’s chief opponents, Trenton High School’s Zyaire Clemes, recently defeated him by three-tenths of a second in the 200. Dutch said that kind of competition is the reason Amonu is one of the area’s top runners.
“Chinedu is one of the best overall runners in the whole state,” Dutch said. “One of the things that I think can be good and bad is that our county is one of the strongest counties in the state as well The competition that he faces in the county meet is the top competition in the state. He has that benefit of going against everybody on an everyday basis. It pushes him to want to succeed.”
Amonu said that race is his motivation going into sectionals, states, and, eventually, the Meet of Champions.
“After the last 50, I wanted to hold him off,” he said. “I wasn’t able to, but it was a very good race. It’s definitely going to push me to work harder so I can finish the last part strong.”
Looking back on Amonu’s career, it’s easy to see why everyone around him pushed him to go out for the track team.
It’s a good thing he listened.