Danville's Carter rounding back into form
FORT DODGE, Iowa — It was nearly three years ago that Destiny Carter last put on a track and field uniform and headed to the starting blocks for a race.
Carter had a shortened season as a senior in 2011 at Danville High School.
The 400-meter state champion as a junior — and the all-time Area Honor Roll leader in the 200 — was dismissed from the girls’ track and field team in April of her senior year.
“I probably ran for a month or two (thereafter) and I stopped,” Carter said. “The last time I did anything was in October 2012.”
That changed when the current school year started last August.
Carter’s sister, Kimberly, was enrolling at Iowa Central Community College and Destiny said, “I didn’t want her to go by herself.”
The idea of continuing her education was a thought that one of Carter’s high school assistants, Tiffany Johnson, had continued to reinforce.
“Coach Johnson wanted me to go back to school,” Destiny Carter said.
Since she was committed to moving to Iowa with her sister — who is on the school’s cross-country team — Destiny Carter decided to return to running.
“I came as a walk-on,” she said.
Barely six months after her arrival, she was a national junior college champion indoors and this spring has the country’s second-best NJCAA times in both the 100 and 200 meters as well as in the long jump.
Carter put an exclamation mark on her season earlier this month, winning the 200 in the prestigious Kansas Relays.
Iowa Central was the first junior college in the 87-year history of the meet to be allowed to compete, joining the field in 2013.
Carter, 21, didn’t expect any of this, especially with such a long layoff.
“I feel good about myself and proud of myself,” she said. “I didn’t know I’d be in the 23s (in the 200). I’m happy I came back to school.”
Her comeback is a feel-good story for those who knew her as a teen-ager in Danville.
Former Danville track and field coach Wes Brown made the tough decision in 2011 to dismiss Carter.
“There are boundaries and consequences when you don’t do things you’re supposed to do,” Brown said.
From his perspective, the important points are not what Carter didn’t do several years ago, but what she is currently doing.
“What happened then is totally irrelevant,” Brown said. “It’s what you’re doing now and in the future.”
What she is accomplishing is opening the eyes of the track and field community.
Carter’s 23.24-second time at the Kansas Relays in the 200 ranks 19th among all women this spring whether at a junior college or a Division I institution. (Her News-Gazette area-best time as a prep was 24.17).
Carter’s best time in the 100 meters (11.39) placed her 22nd nationally this spring among female runners at any college.
“She is a very gifted girl who took care of herself and took care of her body,” Brown said. “She wasn’t out there abusing her body and causing it to deteroriate.
“We are all pulling for her to continue to excel. Who knows? In a few years, we might see her on TV in the Olympics. She is capable of running faster. Things have changed, and she will be better. She’s a good kid with a lot of talent.”
Brown is not surprised that Johnson maintained contact with Carter and urged her to go to college.
“Tiffany is one of the best kids I’ve ever coached,” Brown said. “She is very loyal to the program and to her community. She stayed with Destiny. We tried as a team to keep Destiny on track. I can’t say we failed, but things didn’t pan out the way we anticipated. It’s part of growing up.
“She grew up and is making the best of things.”
Carter will compete in the Region XI meet on Friday and Saturday and then will be at the junior college Division I nationals from May 15-17 in Mesa, Ariz. She has already qualified for nationals in the 200.
Last weekend, Iowa Central competed in the Drake Relays. Carter ran the anchor leg on the third-place finishing 400-meter relay (46.53) and placed 11th individually in the 100 meters (11.86).
Indoors, she was the national champion in the long jump and with the 1,600-meter relay. Carter also placed third individually in the 60 and 200 dashes.
The best news is how well things are going for her in the classroom.
“Mostly A’s and B’s,” said Carter, an accounting major.
One collegiate coach who never stopped recruiting Carter, even when she didn’t finish her senior season in high school, Tonja Buford-Bailey, is still interested. The former Illini head coach is now at the University of Texas.
“I hope to transfer to Texas,” Carter said.