• Bill Althaus: Mitchell draws crowd at KU Relays

  • Roy Bay's eyes were as big as silver dollars.

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  • Roy Bay's eyes were as big as silver dollars.
    “Is that Maurice Mitchell?” asked the Truman High School senior, who finished in second place in the prep 100 meters (10.83 seconds) Saturday afternoon at the KU Relays.
    It was.
    The Raytown South graduate helped the Cardinals win the school's first state championship by claiming four gold medals his senior year.
    He then became a Florida State University All-American, two-time NCAA champion in the 200 and a member of the 2012 Olympic team, and he competed Saturday afternoon in the elite 100-meter field at the relays.
    “Feels like home,” said Mitchell, who became much more than a blip on the high school radar screen when he set the prep KU Relays 100 mark of 10.26 seconds while starring at Raytown South. “I was so excited when people from the KU Relays called and invited me to compete.”
    So were many of the competitors, who asked Mitchell to pose for photos, sign autographs and chat about his Olympic experience.
    Mitchell was joined by his wife Tiarra, 5-month old son Mahari and his mother and father, sister and two brothers.
    “I used today as a speed workout,” said Mitchell, who finished fifth in a race that was marred by two false starts. “I was in the Bahamas last week and my (left) leg started to spasm. It's still doing it a little today, but I'm OK. I wish I would have run better in front of so many hometown fans, but I'll do better for them next weekend.”
    Mitchell will compete in the 400 relay at this Saturday's Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
    He runs for Nike and is based out of the Dallas area, where he trains from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
    “This professional running job is so much different than high school or college,” said Mitchell, who was decked out from head to toe in turquoise Nike gear. “Train four days, compete on the weekends. I like the team aspect of track. That's why I loved high school and college so much. It seems kind of funny being here all by myself – no teammates. That's why I'm so happy my family is here.”
    I have known Maurice Mitchell since he was a freshman at Raytown South. I covered each of his district, sectional and state track meets and saw him set records that could last decades.
    When I asked where his entourage was Saturday, he just grinned and said, “That's why I invited you to come up to Lawrence. You're my entourage.”
    Bay has made an oral commitment to compete for Johnson County (Kan.) Community College where Tom Lester is the head track and field coach. He was Mitchell's sprint coach at Raytown South.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I can't wait to work with the same coach who coached Maurice Mitchell,” Bay said after getting his photo taken with Mitchell. “Johnson County has a great track program and I'm excited to know that I'll be a part of it.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC

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