• Wilkerson twins burst onto scene

  • A star was born last Friday at the Gary Parker Invitational in Blue Springs.

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  • A star was born last Friday at the Gary Parker Invitational in Blue Springs.
    With a galaxy of prep stars on hand at Blue Springs High School's Peve Stadium, including a variety of state-medal winners, none shined brighter than William Chrisman junior DeVante Wilkerson.
    He broke from the pack after receiving the anchor baton in fourth place to lead the Bears to wins in the 400- (43.53 seconds) and 800-meter (1 minute, 31.03 seconds) relays and then stunned the field in the 200 with a first-place time of 22.55.
    “We knew DeVante was fast,” Chrisman track coach Keith Peterson said, “we didn’t know he was that fast. A star was born tonight.”
    Wilkerson hoped to follow up his memorable performance at Wednesday’s Independence City Championship, but it was canceled because of rain, delaying his next appearance to this weekend’s KU Relays.
    “I’ve always known I was fast,” said Wilkerson, who moved with his twin brother Dalvin from Mississippi before the start of their sophomore year, “but I didn’t know I could run as fast as I did at that Blue Springs meet.
    “I have a lot of confidence in my ability, but I even surprised myself. When I won the 200, I was like, ‘Did I just do that?’”
    His coach and twin brother Dalvin had the same reaction.
    “I don't think any of us saw that coming,” said Peterson, who will retire after what could become a memorable finale season at the helm of the Bears program. “He showed everyone that he has a gear that most runners don't have.”
    DeVante and Dalvin talked about last Friday and the remainder of this season after a signing ceremony Thursday at William Chrisman where nine students signed letters to continue their athletic careers at the next level.
    “I want to be up there signing next year,” DeVante said. “When we moved here, we didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to run track, do my thing and see what would happen. But there’s no way I expected to win three gold medals last week.”
    His brother shook his head in agreement.
    “We really like the relay teams, because we know DeVante can catch up with just about anyone if we give him the chance,” said Dalvin, who runs the second leg on each team (with Javaughn Chambers and David Daniel on the 400 relay team and Sam Mitchell, Chambers and the Dalvin on the 800 squad).
    “I have to admit, I was surprised by DeVante last Friday. He kind of came out of nowhere. But he’s fast, and we all knew that. Now, everyone knows it.”
    When asked about competing with a target on his back, DeVante just grinned and said, “I could get used to that. After last week, I have to keep working hard. I don’t want anyone to think that was a fluke or anything. I want them to know that I’m a good runner and that they are going to have to do their best to beat me.”
    Page 2 of 2 - This season is extra special for DeVante, who missed last season because of problems with his grades.
    “It happened, and I admit I made a mistake,” DeVante said. “I didn’t take my grades as serious as I should have. That was a problem last year and it’s never going to be a problem again. Like I said, I want to be up there signing a letter to run track at college and I have to keep my grades up to do that.”
    After last Friday’s performance, DeVante’s world changed.
    “I came to school on Monday and people knew my name and knew who I was who didn’t know it before that meet,” DeVante said. “It was kind of cool, kind of nice. Teachers, people in the office, other students – I want to make everyone at Chrisman proud.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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