Varsity Track and Field

South sprinters weren't always friends, but now work together

South's Phillip Landrum (left), Southeast's Ollie McGee (center) and South's Deron Dudley (right) have created one of the top trios in Kansas track with each coming in the top three of last year's 100 or 200-meter dashes.
South's Phillip Landrum (left), Southeast's Ollie McGee (center) and South's Deron Dudley (right) have created one of the top trios in Kansas track with each coming in the top three of last year's 100 or 200-meter dashes. The Wichita Eagle

Two of Kansas' top sprinters pass each other in the hallways.

South's pair of senior Phillip Landrum and junior Deron Dudley have become one of the most dangerous one-two punches in Kansas high school track. It only helps that they compete in the most thrilling races.

Landrum is the defending Class 6A champion in the 100 and 200-meter dash and the 4x100-meter relay. He is set to join Fort Hays State upon his graduation. Dudley came second in the 100 and helped earn South another title in the 4x100 relay.

But they weren't always stereotypical teammates.

Landrum has always been a hungry athlete, especially with Dudley on the team. The constant threat of losing drives Landrum. He knows if he doesn't bring it, Dudley can and will pass him up.

That made for some gamesmanship early in their time together, Landrum said.

Landrum said when he met Dudley, he wanted to keep his distance. He didn't want to be second in the state, not even to a teammate. But that has changed, he said. Now they train together for the same goal.

"At first it wasn't really a welcoming party," Landrum said. "Now it's just me and him."

Landrum has been pushed this season. At the Maize Invitational on April 5, Southeast's Ollie McGee beat Landrum for the first time in a final. He won the 100 by 0.05 seconds.

Then Friday at the Shocker Pre-State Challenge, McGee did it again. This time in the 200, McGee beat Landrum in the elite final just after posting a 10.54 in the 100, which would have beaten Landrum by more than a tenth of a second last year.

After the past two weeks, Landrum said he has turned it up.

"Losing sucks," Landrum said. "I've been trying to change what I've been doing, stretch more, lift more weights, get more power going and just trying to just outwork whoever else.

"It's really just bumped everything up more because what I've been doing in the past isn't going to work now."

South coach Cody Dickman said his pair is a "treat" to watch. Without a rival, athletes can tend to get complacent a bit, he said.

Dickman said Dudley has probably been the best thing for Landrum, and in the same way, Landrum has probably been the best thing for Dudley.

Watching Landrum gives Dudley a goal to chase, physically and metaphorically, he said.

Landrum said he tries not to get too caught up in what he and the other two are achieving. He is trying to stay focused on the moment.

"I think that's a really good thing for Deron to learn from; he's going to be a really good sprinter next year," he said. "I hope I do leave a path for other athletes to learn from."

With sprinters changing events almost every week, it's possible Landrum, McGee and Dudley won't race against each other again until the state meet May 25-26 at Cessna Stadium.

With that stage for what has turned out to be one of the most glamorous duels in Kansas track, Dickman said it is what athletics is supposed to be.

"There's truly a purity there that doesn't come around very often," he said. "You got a couple guys that are just pretty much carbon copies and it's any given day."

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