By Andrew Johnson
He finished seventh overall in the Division 2 state finals in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.43, and fifth in 300-meter hurdles with a time of 40.26. Both finishes put him among the elite in Michigan and earned All-State status.
But Flores is determined to finish even higher this year.
“I’m trying to work hard to be a state champ,” Flores told LocalSportsJournal.com. “Right now my 300 is a little slow, but being state champ in 110 and 300 is the goal.”
Flores will launch his bid for state glory this weekend, when he and his Fruitport teammates compete in the Division 2 track and field regional meet at Allendale High School.
Flores may stand a good chance of accomplishing his goal in the 110, because his times are really starting to take off.
He recently ran a 14.75 in the 110-meter finals at the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association City Track Meet, taking home the trophy and helping the Fruitport boys win their sixth straight championship. He improved that time on May 9 when he ran a personal best of 14.72 at the O-K Black Conference meet.
“He’s very quick,” said Fruitport head coach Chad Brandow. “He’s got a quick first step and he increases speed as he goes. You’ll see it when he runs the hurdles. He’s usually ahead in the first hurdle and only gets quicker.”
Flores’ 300-meter hurdle times this year are noticeably slower so far, with his season best being a time of 41.56 at the conference meet.
“Last year for spring break I went to Myrtle Beach and trained hard,” Flores said. “This year I kind of regret not doing as much during spring break. I wish I’d have trained harder because I’m not in the shape I’d like to be in right now.”
His coach believes this year’s spring weather hasn’t helped.
“The best meet that we’ve had weather-wise, it was in the 50s,” Brandow said. “It’s been rainy and cold, but he’s doing really well given those conditions.”
Flores refuses to use the weather as an excuse.
“It’s really tough,” said Flores, a three-sport athlete who also plays varsity football and basketball for the Trojans. “It’s like the coaches say, ‘You have to push through everything and do what you can do, and control what you can control.’ You just control warming up harder and pushing through everything. Nothing should faze you if you’re prepared.”
Flores carries a high grade point average and is a coach’s dream, according to Brandow.
“He’s very respectable and really well-liked,” Brandow said. “Teachers like him and coaches like him. He’s a hard-nosed athlete. He wants to win and be good at what he does. He’s always asking what he can do to be better.”
Flores said coaches often ask him to lead, and he’s happy to oblige.
“They put me in a leadership position as a freshman,” he said. “They told me I’d get better at it. Most of the coaches say I’m a leader and it comes naturally. But I couldn’t do it by myself. People look up to me, but I couldn’t be as successful without the other guys.”
Ironically, competing and excelling in track almost never happened for Flores, because he grew up playing another spring sport.
“I played baseball my whole life,” Flores said. “I ran track starting in seventh grade. I was going to see how it was doing both, and it was just hard. I was sore a lot and I decided that track was better for me because I was better at it, and I just like the atmosphere.”