published Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Runner sets record-breaking pace on the track

Cahlib Edwards, 10, stretches on the Ooltewah High School track. He has broken several records at Ooltewah Elementary and was the fastest child in Hamilton County Schools in the 400-meter dash last year.
Cahlib Edwards, 10, stretches on the Ooltewah High School track. He has broken several records at Ooltewah Elementary and was the fastest child in Hamilton County Schools in the 400-meter dash last year.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
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CLAIM TO FAME

Cahlib Edwards, 10, can run the mile in under six minutes, the fastest time at his school. When he competed with the Chattanooga Jets Track Club in 2009-2010, he ran at the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics in Hampton Roads, Va.

ABOUT HIM

  • School: Rising fourth-grader at Ooltewah Elementary School.
  • His dream: To play in the NBA or run the 400-meter in the Olympics.
  • Favorite runner: U.S. Olympic athlete Tyson Gay.
  • Currently reading: "Naruto" manga (Japanese comics).
  • Favorite movie: "Hulk," and the "Spider-Man" and "Batman" films.

PERSONAL BESTS

  • 50-meter: 6.95 seconds
  • 100-meter: 13 seconds
  • 200-meter: 29 seconds
  • 400-meter: 1:15 minutes
  • 800-meter: 2:47 minutes

TALENT SHOW

Do you know a child age 13 or younger with a precocious talent in academics, athletics or the arts? The Times Free Press is searching for children to feature in "Talent Show," which appears in the Life section on Tuesdays. To nominate a child as a possible subject of a future feature article, e-mail staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or call him at 423-757-6205.

Although he loves to run, Cahlib Edwards, 10, said he sometimes gets bored on the track, not because he's losing interest but because it gets lonely being so far out in front.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one out on the track until I lap [the other runners]," he said, laughing.

For all his boasting, Cahlib has the accomplishments to back up his claims.

He first laced up to run cross-country as a kindergartner in Indiana. Even then, he was outpacing others, including the "rabbit," an adult who ran ahead of the children to show them the way.

Running was an experiment at first, but Cahlib said he quickly grew to love it.

"We just tested it out to see if I could run, and then I got good at it," he said. "I didn't want to keep running after the first time because it was tiring, [but] at the end, it was easy for me."

Cahlib's pace only accelerated as he grew older.

Last year, as a third-grader, Cahlib clocked the fastest times at Ooltewah Elementary School for the mile run. He was the only student to complete it in under six minutes.

Cahlib began running competitively after moving to Chattanooga as a second-grader. Due to Hamilton County school system restrictions, he wasn't able to race for his school until he reached third grade, but his parents, Hollis and Mary Edwards, let him join the Chattanooga Jets Track Club.

While running for the Jets, Cahlib set records in 2010 for both the long jump (12 feet and 1/2 inch) and the 800-meter run (2:47) among sub-bantam runners.

In August 2010, he qualified to enter the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics at Hampton Roads, Va., where he competed in the long jump, 200-meter dash and 4x100 meter relay.

Cahlib often runs for fun against his older brother, Hollis, 11. Although they usually end up neck-and-neck, Hollis said a race against Cahlib can feel decidedly one-sided.

"Sometimes, you don't know if he's racing against anybody cause he gets so far ahead," he said.

Cahlib's father also ran track in grade and middle school and said Cahlib has a natural talent for the sport.

Edwards said that skill first came to his attention after his wife took Cahlib and his brother to their older sister Simone's track practices. Although Cahlib was only in kindergarten and Hollis in first grade, they were soon outpacing much older runners, Edwards said.

"They came home and said he was beating the fifth-graders, and I was like, 'Huh?,' " he said, laughing.

Even more than Cahlib's many medals, Edwards said he is proudest of his son's sportsmanship.

"He's the hardest worker -- always," Edwards said. "He leads that way, by example.

"I'm more caught up in his work ethic, his attitude and his being a good leader. That's what I focus on. That's something that can transcend beyond sports."

Although he continued to race at Hershey's Track and Field Game meets this year, Cahlib opted out of running with the Jets in favor of playing as a point guard for the Chattanooga Elite AAU basketball team.

Cahlib said he's eager to rejoin the Jets during the next season, which starts in May. Jets coach James Ward said he is eager to have Cahlib back on his roster to complete a 10-and-under relay team he expects to be a can't-beat.

"If Cahlib was here this year, it would have been a done deal," Ward said. "We'll still go down [to the Junior Olympics] strong, but with Cahlib on the team ... we would have been top three in the nation."

If Cahlib continues to train, Ward said, his combination of innate ability, passion and leadership skills could land him a spot in Chattanooga's athletic annals alongside greats such as Howard High School rising senior LaQuisha Jackson.

"He's one of the fastest kids in the city," Ward said. "If he sticks to track, he'll probably be one of the greatest to come through here. He has that kind of passion and work ethic."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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