Methuen High School track sensation Darwin Jiminez took things to another level at the recent New Balance Nationals in Philadelphia. The second-year sprinter extraordinaire won the “Rising Stars”
100-meter dash championship with an astounding time of 10.67 seconds.
In addition to his individual excellence, Jiminez got a little help from his friends as he, Aaron Chiocca, Elgin Ekwi and Joshua Kwakye finished in third place in the Rising Stars 4×100 at historic Franklin Field.
The national accomplishments finished off a remarkable senior season at MHS for Jiminez, one in which he went undefeated in the 100 meters. His success is about ability and aptitude.
“I think it’s my obsession over the process,” says Jiminez. “I love seeing my hard work pay off as my times get lower and lower. I am blessed to have this natural ability that God has given me, and I use that to push me every day to get better than I was the day before.”
Natural ability and faith are keys, but you do not achieve Jiminez’s status without hard work. He embraces the challenge: “Every little detail matters. I am always looking to improve. This means trusting my coaches and learning about track outside of just running track.
“I would go home, study the greats, and learn drills to shorten my times and fix my form. I want to be part of that 1% of people. That means I have to work harder than everyone else.”
MHS track coach Brittany Caprio talks about what makes Jiminez special: “His speed is always there, but every day can’t be perfect. Darwin has an innate ability to feel the differences in his technique or execution and adapt on the spot. There are few runners who have that ability.
“His development over two years of running is truly a night-and-day experience. Last year, during the indoor season he was on the back end of our varsity lineup, but we had the ability to move him into different races. He slowly began to develop his racing abilities while working alongside athletes like Michael Soucy and Andrew Wannaphong. By the end of last spring season, you could see his maturity as an athlete. This year he has just taken his personal and athletic growth to a whole new level.”
Jiminez’s initially rocky path to stardom was overcome by his zest for victory. He relates, “I started track on a whim, so I didn’t take it seriously at first. It all changed once it got more competitive with my friends and teammates. I could be myself on the track, and I love that about the sport.”
The Ranger Roadrunner talks about his performance at Rising Stars and the undefeated 100m season: “At Rising Stars, it was a sense of relief knowing I won. I was just thinking about my mom after I finished. I turned around saw the camera and said, ‘I love you, mom!’
“The pressure of knowing I was undefeated during the season was definitely a factor. I and other people were expecting a win every time. It feels good to say I went undefeated for the entire season.”
Jiminez’s relentless attitude is just the right medicine for pressure. Caprio relates, “Darwin never gives up. There were many times that a tough workout day would be telling him to stop, but he would push through and adjust his rest in order to finish the workouts to the best of his abilities.
“His mental gains have been one of the biggest assists to his work ethic. I credit a lot of that to the mindset he came in with this year. There are a few kids who truly love track, but Darwin is track.
“When I listen to him talk about the sport, I can see his love for it. He is a true competitor and he wants to get better. Without the love of this sport, I’m not sure he would be taking that next step in his athletic career. He analyzes his races, reviews performance lists and prepares himself mentally. To do all that, you have to love it.”
Love is a huge part of the Darwin Jiminez story, and it starts with his aforementioned mom and family.
“Every time I step into those blocks, they are the first thing in my mind,” he states. “I dedicate every single step, every single stride to them, especially my mom and sister who are always the loudest people cheering for me. To see how proud they are after every win, it makes my sacrifices worth it.”
While Jiminez basks in singular glory, he takes just as much pride in the team 4×100 win at Nationals: “It felt great to be running with my family. They are more than just friends. I was blessed to be running with that group, to take the last handoff was a blessing.”
Jiminez not only made his teammates better, but also his coaches. Caprio credits Jiminez with taking her abilities to new heights: “He has truly challenged me as a coach. I have had many hurdlers, mid-distance runners and quarter-milers who have been standouts. Athletes like Luana Machado, Sara Fragione, Roan Marcano, Stanley Hanci and Michael Soucy, just to name a few, but Darwin was my first true short sprinter. He challenged me to adapt my coaching style and adjust my strategies. What I’ll miss most is the family aspect he brings to the team. Watching him and his teammates cheering on each other’s successes and picking each other up when they are down will be something that I can’t replace.”
Jiminez plans to attend junior college, study software engineering and continue his track career. His future is bright, and he knows how fortunate he was to be at Methuen High School where track and field stars have been groomed for decades.
“Methuen High track and field coaching is something special for sure,” says Jiminez. “I see them as coaches, but also as family. They were there for me every step of the ride and saw me improve day by day. I can’t thank them enough honestly.”
John Molori is an author, columnist, and a 2011 inductee into the Methuen Athletic Hall of Fame. Facebook: John Molori, Twitter @MoloriMedia. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org