By LARRY VAUGHT
No one should have been surprised when King Combest of Owensboro won the 100-meter dash at the Kentucky Junior Olympics Championship at Centre College in Danville last weekend in 13.08 seconds, a record time in the 11-12 age division.
After all, a few weeks earlier he set a state record when he won the 100 at the Kentucky Elementary Track & Field Championship at Oldham County in 13.02 seconds to earn a trip to the national championships in Orlando in July.
Combest, 12, just finished his fifth grade year at Tamatrack Elementary School in Owensboro. But if the name sounds familiar, it should. His father is Casey Combest, who still holds the national high school record in the indoor 60-meter dash at 6.57 seconds, a mark he set in 1999. If that is not enough of a bloodline, King’s grandfather, Keith Combest, ran the 400-meter dash in 48.4 seconds in the mid-1970’s when he was in high school.
King’s mother, Nisha Green, says her son is not a one-sport wonder, either. He plays FOUR sports and believes he can succeed in them all.
He scored 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,300 yards in 10 games in football lasts year and had 91 tackles on defense. In baseball, it’s no surprise that he led his league in stolen bases. He played on a travel AAU basketball team.
“He wants to be a four-sport letterman in high school,” Green said. “King ran 4.86 for 40 yards when he was 11 years old at the combine at the Western Kentucky All-Star Invite . King placed second in the nation the last two years in the 60-meter dash in the indoor season and this year he on pace to run in the national finals and dreams of winning it.
“His father was considered by many that saw him in the 1990’s as the GOAT (greatest of all time). I know Casey doesn’t push him like people think . King pushes himself, I believe, to be better than his father . His grandfather was Kentucky fastest man in the 70’s and King understands he is the third generation sprinter in the family.”
His amazing numbers at such an early age certainly suggest he’s going to be special. His father and Lexington’s Tyson Gay were the two best high school sprinters I ever saw run. Casey Combest’s career was derailed by some off-track issues while Gay went on to international fame. But never doubt the speed that Casey Combest possessed.
“I try hard to help King get noticed because he works daily at his craft,” she said. “He dreams of being something one day! I’m just doing my part by backing and supporting King just like his dad.”
My guess is that King Combest is a name to remember because we are going to hear a lot about him in the years ahead — and maybe for more than just his blazing speed on the track.