DECATUR — MacArthur's Ronald Reed was the fastest man in Class 2A this year.
But he almost wasn't.
Long before Reed, the Herald & Review Macon County Boys Track Athlete of the Year, crossed the finish line of his 100-meter dash in 10.72 seconds to win the gold at the 2A state track meet, the outdoor track season began without Reed on the Generals' team.
"I was going through personal issues and stuff on the track and off the track," Reed said. "I kind of wanted to quit track, I didn’t want to run it anymore."
Reed said his main problem was injuries, but also said he wasn't putting the team first.
"Injuries got me to that point, people got me to that point, people talking to my head, negativity," Reed said. "Me and (MacArthur track coach Micah Sheppard) had a good conversation when I came back to the team and he understood."
Reed said Sheppard told him to take some time off, then come back to the team.
"He helped me through the process and got me back on track," Reed said.
Sheppard worked hard to bring Reed back to the track team after the sprinter had lost his fire for the sport.
The first step was getting Reed back in-step with the MacArthur program.
"Ronald kind of got roped into working out with a club coach and was kind of going astray and kind of lost the passion for the sport because of the particular coach that was driving him a certain way," Sheppard said. "So he had an eye-opening and we had a heart-to-heart and told him, 'When you are ready to come back and do what that needs to be done here at school, we are ready for you.'
"He kind of needed to make that decision on where to go at that point in time and he chose to come back to the team and pursue that option and he really fell back in love with the sport."
Sheppard said a big part of bringing Reed back into the mix was convincing him being part of a team is better than going at it on his own.
"He was separated from his friends, separated from the team and really missed that," Sheppard said. "It was the best decision he could have made at that point in time to come back and do things the way he needed to do them. I just told him that we are here and here’s what you have to do to come back, and he fulfilled all those things and the rest is history."
Reed said he knows how important that talk was with Sheppard and how not rejoining the team would have been a huge blunder.
"That would have been one of the worst mistakes," Reed said. "I appreciate that a lot. It did a lot for me and it is going to send me on for the rest of my life.
"(Coach Sheppard) got me through a hard situation, and especially my mom, too. Those two, I can never talk bad about them. They helped me through it and who knows what would have happened if I didn’t have that talk with Shep?"
The Generals team welcomed Reed back as well, making the transition that much easier. Reed said MacArthur's seventh-place finish in the 4x100 relay was his favorite moments during his state meet experience.
"Luckily I got it together and I came back to the team and they welcomed me with open arms," Reed said. "Through the (100-meter) race and the whole weekend it was a good experience and I’m glad I got to share it with my friends."
Reed said having his friends as part of the relays makes it even more fun.
"I love the relays because all my friends and teammates are all involved and that’s what I like," Reed said. "It builds memories so the whole thing was a memory that I’ll never forget."
On Wednesday, it was announced on Twitter that Reed will run at Eastern Illinois University next season, but Decatur will not be far from his mind.
"I love Decatur," Reed said. "There is negativity, but there a lot of people who want you to make it out and they have good advice for you — good people from back in the day that used to run track. They want to see track back to where it was back in the day and I wanted to show that I could do that. I wanted to bring people out and bring young kids to come out, too. If I could do it, they could do it too."