Dahva’e Edward-Chew turned his initial disappointment of not playing basketball into an opportunity to excel in track and field.
The Ewing High School junior this year advanced all the way to the indoor Meet of Champions in the 400 meters individually and anchored the boys 4×400 relay to the Group II state meet.
“I think I had a really good winter season,” Edward-Chew said. “It was kind of a change up for me. I used to play basketball. I know working in track this season, it pushed me and seeing the competition that was out there, it helped me.”
Edward-Chew heads into the outdoor track and field season this spring with more confidence after a strong finish to the indoor season. On Jan. 26, he ran the 400 meters in 41.88 seconds for fifth place at the Mercer County Championships.
Each of the next four times he ran the quarter-mile race, he lowered his time all the way down to a new personal record of 51.53 seconds for 15th place in the statewide MOC. He chalked up his steady development to the competition and adjusting to training through the indoor year.
“Coming into this winter season, I knew a few faces,” Edward-Chew said. “Being pushed by them, my coaches were pushing me too, I talked to my brother, and I was getting information from guys that graduated from Ewing. I have confidence in myself but I don’t say I’m so much better than anyone.
“Lawrence and Steinert have good 400 runners and I know they’re dropping times. If one person is working hard, I want to be working just as hard if not harder. That was my main thing. I had my biggest competition from Lawrence, we were neck and neck. At the Meet of Champs, I had the chance to get him. I don’t want to let anyone down.”
Only one Mercer County sprinter ran faster than Edward-Chew at the MOC. His progress has him more confident heading into his third season of spring track.
Edward-Chew has gone faster than that in a 400—when it was for the team. He teamed up with senior Mike Ilesanmi, freshman Tariq McKinney and junior Bey-Shan Clarke to make a solid 4×400 relay. They ran 3:36.30 for fourth in the Central Jersey Group II meet. Their top-six finish pushed them forward into the state Group II meet where they lowered their time to 3:35.99.
“In the beginning of the season, we had to mess around with it a little,” Edward-Chew said. “We didn’t know how we’d do. In one race, I started it. Then, we talked about me anchoring it. I see a lot of potential with my teammates.”
Edward-Chew has been a reliable member of the mile relay. Last year, one of the highlights to his sophomore season was helping the 4×400 relay win its heat at the Penn Relays and a coveted wheel award.
“We kept breaking times and breaking times,” Edward-Chew said. “Around April, our whole motivation was to get a wheel. My freshman year I was supposed to be there, but I couldn’t make it. We had A’airion Scott lead off and hand to Nasir Bland. He kept us in fifth and I moved us from fifth to second. I set up Michael (Conover). He was about 30 meters behind and about that last 200 he pumped and we brought it back. We took that same team to state and we were just a place off from Meet of Champs.”
Edward-Chew’s third leg was memorable. Conover took it home after Edward-Chew put him in position to succeed.
“Coming around the final turn, Dahva’e put the burners on and it looked like everyone else was standing still,” said Dan Montferrat, an assistant coach with the Ewing spring track team. “We had some big leaders. He was a big reason we won our heat and were able to take home a wheel. He remembers those things and gets excited about those things and other guys get excited.”
This winter, it was Edward-Chew that filled that anchor role. He’s shown strong closing speed in the competitive relay environment.
“In sectionals, we happened to be in seventh when I got the baton,” he said. “Bey-Shan had closed the gap. That first lap, I knew stay with the pack and then eat up the curve and then I had to go. Being anchor leg again and the rest looking up to me, not too much pressure, but I’m going to work hard.”
The Blue Devils are counting on that this spring. Montferrat, who coaches cross country in the fall, tried to get Edward-Chew out for cross country, but he was still preparing as if to play basketball.
Edward-Chew is one of the more experienced athletes on the Ewing team. The winter helped him gain more experience.
“I wanted to play basketball,” Edward-Chew said. “Everybody in my family played basketball. My mom and my dad. I always had a passion for track since I was 8 or 9, so it wasn’t a hard transition to go to track. It was an easy decision. Now I’m in better shape for the spring season now.”
Edward-Chew is trying to take the Blue Devils’ younger athletes under his wing to prepare them for the spring season. He can help in a number of areas, and his versatility is one of his biggest strengths.
“You’re only limited to so many events,” Montferrat said. “If I could, I’d throw him into six to seven events. He was long jumping this winter too. His best was around 18. He was jumping in relays with Mike Ilesanmi. The 200 is also his thing. He’ll run the 800, long jump, the 100 dash. He’s the ultimate team guy. When I ask him, he’ll say, ‘Where do you want me?’”
Edward-Chew has been getting faster in the sprints as he gets older and stronger. He started his career running some 800-meter races and saw his times drop from 2:16 all the way down to 2:06 last year. Since then, Ewing has shifted his attention to the 400 and shorter races.
“They transitioned me to a 400 runner,” he said. “I think I can go far in that. Freshman year I ran 53. Last year at states, I split a 50-point. This year, I’m already going 51. My goal is low 49, high 48. The 200 and 800 workouts, they help the 400.”
Getting a winter to work out in track has Edward-Chew more excited than usual for the spring track season and beyond. He has higher goals and soaring confidence after a promising first indoor season.
“Me and Monty are always talking,” Edward-Chew said. “My main goal for the 400 is to run a 48. I’m focused on track. I don’t need to go back to basketball.”
This summer, I’ll do AAU track. All summer I was thinking about coming into basketball. It was a minor setback, but no biggie.”
Instead, Dahva’e Edward-Chew is intent on proving that he’s one of the fastest runners in the state after using the winter to get a jump on his season and his career.