Smith Charles is one of the state’s most decorated sprinters and jumpers.
Since his freshman year at Milton High, the 5-foot-6-inch, 165-pound Charles has accumulated 20 individual state titles during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
Last winter indoors, Charles swept three events at the state Division 3 championships, winning the long jump, high jump, and the 55-meter dash.
With eye-opening career-bests of 6.4 seconds in the 55, 23 feet, 9 inches in the long jump, and 6-10 for the high jump, Charles received scholarship offers from a number of Division 1 college programs, including Cornell, Georgetown, Iowa, Boston University, and Northeastern.
Now a senior, Charles recently signed a Likely Letter to go Ivy League, and attend Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., in the fall.
“I think the environment and people at Cornell seem to be exactly what I wanted and the people there are so welcoming,” said Charles.
“The other schools I visited were nice and the academics look good, but I think the people at Cornell, the coaches and the team I’m going to be spending four years with, really sold it to me.”
In addition to starring in track and field, Charles recently completed his high school football career, where he was the featured running back for a Milton squad that advanced to the Division 4 South final. He was playing football before he ever considered joining the track team.
Five things to know about Smith Charles:
He has natural ability, plus.
Dion Crichlow, the track coach in Milton, recalls seeing Charles jump for the first time.
Crichlow was in the fan section, watching her daughter Amani’s middle school track meet.
“[Charles] would long jump, and I’d be like ‘Who is this little kid?,’” said Crichlow. “He was just so athletic.
“His form was horrible, but he was so athletic and competitive, you knew he was something special.”
He takes academics seriously. Very seriously.
Charles has no desire to pursue football at Cornell in fear that it would get in the way of academics. He has a desire to enroll in the school of engineering — either mechanical or chemical.
Tyrece Weekes, a longtime friend as well as a football and track teammate, said “Off of the track, [Charles] takes academics to a whole new level. He tutors me, and it’s made me better. He strives to be high [academically].”
The bar is always set very high.
“We’ve always been about records, state championships, or qualifying for nationals. We try to look at the bigger picture,” said Crichlow.
On Dec. 13, Charles won the long jump (21-6) and 55 meters (6.52 seconds) in a Bay State Conference win over Braintree. But he wasn’t satisfied. He called his long jump performance “not that good,” adding he’s still in the practice stages of the season.
Charles admitted his 55 time was good, but intends to trim it down considerably.
His season goals?
“Place top six at nationals and get All-American for the 60-meter dash and the long jump. Maybe the high jump if I decide to do it.”
The vital component to his success.
“Warming up, and doing all his stuff to prepare for a meet, is different than most,” said Weekes. “If he knows something is bothering him, he focuses on that area to make sure it’s warmed up and stretched the right way.”
After recovering from past injuries (hamstrings, hip flexor, and Achilles), Charles recognized stretching and warmups are key if he wants to thrive.
“I have a lot of muscle density, so it’s very hard for my muscles to warm up thoroughly,” said Charles. “About 10 minutes — or even an hour before meets — I’m very big on getting my muscles warm so they can perform how they should be.”
His competitive spirit is undeniable.
“His passion to compete is unbelievable and he understands how to compete,” said Crichlow.
Entering practice and meets with a competitive mind-set is something Charles has possessed since first stepping on a track. He noted he began track and football to compete against his friends. He started as a high jumper, but when his friends began sprinting, he got into running as well.
“I wasn’t fast [at first], but I was so competitive, I kept practicing and going at it. I guess I just wanted to win.”
Joe Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Smith Charles’s weight.