Obadiah signs with top JUCO

By PATRICK MacCOON Sports Writer
Posted 8/2/17

Mel Obadiah’s legs and sharp mind continue to carry him well.

After an impressive finish to his track and field career at Cleveland High School, the lanky, smooth runner earned attention from …

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Obadiah signs with top JUCO

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Mel Obadiah’s legs and sharp mind continue to carry him well.

After an impressive finish to his track and field career at Cleveland High School, the lanky, smooth runner earned attention from several colleges for his talents.

With great satisfaction, Obadiah inked a commitment over the weekend to run for a stellar program, Iowa Central, which finished the NJCAA Division I season ranked third overall in the country.

“It is an absolutely amazing feeling to be able to run collegiately with a program that’s so dedicated to help me and other athletes run wise,” an ecstatic Obadiah said. “They also really want to focus on you and your growth as a young adult.”

Obadiah’s passion for flying around the 400-meter track, in fact, did not come instantaneously. His unique talent was something he had to work for after not getting immersed in the sport until his junior season.

While his 6-foot-4 frame he put to the test on the football field as a tight end, Obadiah soon found he could not waste his true strength.

“It has taken a while to get where I am at, and some days it was really hard, but worth it,” said Obadiah of his training that led to a strong performance at the TSSAA state tournament this past season. “I still feel like I am not necessarily there yet. I have a whole lot to learn and I am open-minded.”

With a one-track mind focused on his goals set early in his final prep season with the Blue Raiders, Obadiah was able to achieve the all-state honor.

The standout runner kept good pace with his long strides and was able to finish seventh overall in the largest classification’s (Class AAA) state championship 800-meter run. He crossed with a time of 1:59.52 despite a constant headwind.

Soon after realizing he had made the top eight, which means a trip to the medal stand, Obadiah was overcome with joy, hardly believing he had made his dream turn to reality.

“It felt like a joy was put in my heart,” Obadiah said of his all-state finish, which was one of six such finishes for CHS along with teammates Keegan Jones, Benjedi Casseus (2x), Tiyanna Johnson and Eric Parker. “I cried. I did it for myself. It was my personal goal, and I accomplished it.”

With this past season being just his second complete season, relatively new to the sport, Obadiah’s leap to come in college could be significant.

His personal best 800m outdoor run came with a 1:57.38 mark at the sub-sectional race in Rhea County May 8. It’s a time only .20 seconds away from breaking a school record set by Ian Ward at the state championship in 2008.

Obadiah finished first in four of his six 800m races during the season. He won the Chattanooga Little Caesars Individual Championships, while he also was the district and sectional champion.

Obadiah often did not see runners at the front of the pack with him, so his chance to run even faster times could be helped by better competition in junior college.

“Coach Lonnie White really first got me interested in the sport, but I made the choice for myself,” Obadiah said. “Running is a stress reliever for me. When you’re having school issues and you run, it clears it most of the time. You have to be patient in this sport, and in life.”

Soon to become a first-year collegiate student-athlete, Obadiah fully plans on working toward his next dream.

“I want to transfer to the University of Iowa (D-I),” he said. “I have been talking to my friend Carter Lilly (current Iowa Hawkeyes track record holder), who happens to run the 800m, and I just need to drop my time by six seconds.”

Obadiah is grateful his hard work has paid off and for those who continue to help him along the way to hopefully become a stellar Division-I runner one day.

“There is a scholarship fund I want to thank the Chattanooga Thunder track club for helping set up for me,” Obadiah said. “But people can help me by challenging me every day and encouraging me.”

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