Photo by John Nepolitan, DyeStat.com
For someone’s who had seemingly “done it all” on the track and on the gridiron – en route to a scholarship offer to do both at the University of Oregon – sprinting undercover is still pretty new to Rodrick Pleasant. So it was pretty exciting what he was able to achieve this past weekend at Nike Indoor Nationals.
First, on Saturday, Pleasant led his Southern California Elite TC to a 1:28.54 victory in the new Club 4x200m relay. The 60m dash Sunday was more challenging, proving a little short for the Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif.) senior to reach full speed. In the 200m final a little later, though, he did just that – coming on strong the final 50m for a 21.41 triumph. Final takeaway: Two Gold medals and an additional All-American finish.
“It’s a blessing, just being here and being able to compete in an amazing field like this” he told Running Report’s Aaron Potts after the furlong. “Nike Indoor Nationals is a great event and (the 200m) felt kind of like some redemption for the 60m … I’m so happy with my performance, especially coming off football season.”
Pleasant had competed exactly twice previously indoors. “As a freshman, I opened up my season at The Simplot Games, 60m in 6.90, and I wanted to finish my HS career by opening up at Simplot again, after the pandemic,” he says. Last month there at Holt Arena, he sped 6.80 for 2nd in the 60m, as well as leading his club – SC Elite of Los Angeles – to a 1:29.59 4x200m victory. That was his indoor prep for NIN.
Pleasant has shown the ability to ascend quickly to top form before. Last spring, for example, he came to the big stage at the early April Arcadia Invitational toward the end of the recovery process from a pair of ankle injuries from football. He was just 4th in the 100m there at 10.51.
But in mid-late May, he smoked his wind-legal PRs of 10.14 and 20.40 at the Southern Section Masters and Finals, respectively, before claiming both in the CIF State Championships. Three weeks later, Pleasant was runner-up in the Nike Outdoor Nationals 100m with 10.23w.
“I had great support from my football team, coaches & teammates, to help me get through it,” he said of the recovery process. “What I learned about myself is if you put your mind to overcome any challenges and have great support from people around you, you can make it.”
Speaking of competing at Hayward, Pleasant has an exciting future both on the Ducks home track and in Autzen Stadium on the football field – having recently signed with Oregon as a two-sport recruit. “I really like the football coaches and the sprint track coach at Oregon,” he said. “Being there felt good and it felt like home to me. The training facilities are extremely nice and the coaching/training prepares you for the next level in football and track.”
There’s a pretty strong tradition at Serra of two-sport track/football athletes excelling not just as preps, but as collegians and pros, as well – athletes like Robert Woods (USC/NFL’s Bills, Rams & Titans) and Adoree’ Jackson (USC/NFL’s Titans and Giants). “I love both sports and being a 2-sport athlete is what I'm used to doing from a young age,” says Pleasant. “Having former athletes like Adoree’ and Robert is motivating within itself. They both enjoyed being dual athletes and they set the bar high for Serra athletics. It is great that I'm able to keep the tradition going.”
Pleasant, who is coached by Chris Mack at both the club and high school level, says NIN was “one step” to what he hopes to achieve during the long season in his home state as he prepares for outdoor with his Serra teammates. “I'm looking forward to seeing both the girls team and boys team winning the CIF State Championships,” he says. “And I would like to break the National HS record in the 100m!”
This or That
- AF1 or Air Max? AF1
- Chipotle or Sweet Greens? Chipotle
- Pool or Beach? Beach
- Friday Night: In and Chill ... or Party Time!! In and Chill
- Date: Dinner & Movie or Great Outdoors? Dinner & Movie
- Sports car or Pick-up truck? Sports Car
- NBA or NFL (as a fan)? NFL
- Gold medal or World record? World Record
And a few more open-ended "Favorites" questions:
- Favorite Song? Real Big by Nipsey Hussle
- Favorite Book? Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant
- Favorite Movie? Fast & Furious
- Favorite Dinner? Turkey wings, mac & cheese and cabbage
- Favorite Animal? Lion
- Favorite Place? On the football field