Goodman's success at Mobile Challenge of Champions, Taco Bell Classic were stepping stone to world-beating success as a prep from 2006-09
It would be quite the understatement to say Chalonda Goodman has a lot of good memories of her days at Newnan High School (Ga.) as an elite, world-beating sprinter.
There was a 4-year sweep of the 100m and 200m in the GHSA Georgia state champs for the Lady Cougars while coached by her father, Harold Goodman. There were national titles, especially an incredible 3-year run of 100/200 doubles at the NSAF’s outdoor championships (Nike Outdoor Nationals in those days) in Greensboro.
And there were victorious international team trips – with Team NSAF to the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Puerto Rico and with Team USA to the World Youth Champs in the Czech Republic finishing her soph year in 2007, and finally the Pan American Juniors in Trinidad & Tobago as a senior in 2009.
So there’s a lot to “throw back” to with Goodman. By the time she graduated Newnan in 2009, she had crafted one of the most amazing careers of any prep sprinter in history. No one else has ever won back-to-back-to-back doubles in any events at NSAF nationals.
But for Goodman and her family – father Harold, mother Patricia and brother Cedric – there were also fun trips to big meets around the Southeast each spring while getting ready for those championship competitions – especially heading down to the Gulf for the Mobile Challenge of Champions, then over to South Carolina’s capitol city for the Taco Bell Classic (now the Bojangles Track Classic). Both were NSAF Select Meets and continue to have that status today, always on back-to-back weekends in April. They played a big part in helping Goodman get to that elite level.
“Mobile and Taco Bell were definitely two of my favorite meets,” she recalled. “Doing well at them boosted my confidence and helped set me up for nationals and other summer track meets.”
And did she ever do well! As a freshman at Mobile in ’06, Goodman was runner-up in both the 100m and 200m. The following year it really started: After a runner-up finish to Breanna Hubbard in the Mobile 100, she got her first major invitational victory by beating Hubbard in the 200 at 24.27. Then the next week, she had a pair of fast runner-up performances behind elite Brittney Long in her first Taco Bell meet – and that set up everything that followed.
The following month Goodman captured her third and fourth individual Georgia state titles, but she still wasn’t really on the national radar. That changed in June as she stunned the track world with her first two NSAF national titles at Nike Outdoor. In the 100m, Goodman shocked defending champ Gabby Mayo as well as Brittney Long, winning by .02 with an 11.56. The following day she returned and took the 200m by the same razor-thin margin – defeating Long again as well as favored Tiffany Townsend.
“It was really a surprise to win those,” Goodman remembers. She was also selected to represent Team NSAF at the second Caribbean Scholastic Invitational (CSI) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she won the 100m and ran on the 4x100 relay. “I’ll never forget competing on our team with people like Marquise Goodwin, Doris Anyanwu and Antonio Scales. I really enjoyed the whole experience. Before that trip, for example, I had never seen such a beautiful beach so beautiful.”
CSI also prepared Goodman for her trip almost immediately following: Representing Team USA in the 2007 World Youth Champs in Ostrava, Czech Republic. She performed wonderfully there as well, winning 200m silver and medley relay gold.
By the time Goodman returned to Mobile the following year, she was a double NSAF Nike Outdoor champion and would never be an underdog again as a high schooler. She doubled there with 11.54 and 23.93, then swept Taco Bell with even speedier marks of 11.37 (11.31w prelim) and 23.55. Then during her epic senior year in ’09, she ruled with the same double-double: 11.64 and 23.69 at Mobile (both into headwinds) and meet records of 11.30 and 23.32 at Taco Bell. She won MVP honors for both events.
Mobile meet director Steve Schoenwald has fond memories of the Goodmans, as well. He first remembers getting a call from Harold, about bringing his son Cedric to the meet back in 2003. Cedric was a superstar sprinter himself and he finished third that year in an epic 400m behind Xavier Carter’s 45.88. Then in 2004, Goodman nearly beat Carter’s meet record with his own stellar 45.94.
“Cedric ran sub-46, but didn’t get his rematch because Xavier missed the meet with turf toe,” said Schoenwald. “Cedric won the MVP.” At that point, sister Chalonda was a 7th-grader – her time yet to come.
“The whole family is just great,” he continued. “Chalonda was a wonderful sprinter and wonderful person. Very humble. Who she was as a person was reflected in whom she was athletically. She was very graceful on the track and very gracious off of it.”
Chalonda Goodman’s DyeStat MVP honor at Mobile wrapped up six years of trips down there between 2003 and 2009 – and it wasn’t only about the sprinting.
“My brother and I both enjoyed these trips and always looked forward to them,” said Goodman. “We developed some of our own family traditions for our favorite meets and when we went to Mobile, we could never leave without going to Dreamland Bar-B-Que.”
“A lot of folks would say that!” said Schoenwald with a laugh. Dreamland is, in fact, a big supporter of the meet and the iconic Mobile location is filled with Challenge meet-goers before, during and after on the first weekend in April each year.
Of course, Goodman’s memorable Mobile and Taco Bell doubles were just part of outstanding seasons during her junior and senior years. Her second Nike Outdoor 100/200 sweep highlighted 2008, but nothing could quite compare to what 2009 would bring.
The crescendo really began in Greensboro with Goodman’s final NON double. The 11.38 100m (11.30 prelim) was outstanding, but it was her 200m finale that shook the world. Pushed to her limit by soph sensation Octavious Freeman, Goodman sped around her favorite track at NC A&T faster than she ever had before, then after crossing the finish line turned to look up at the clock.
22.94! Goodman’s hands covered her face in the ultimate expression of joyous disbelief, that of someone overwhelmed by the wonder they behold. “I had been working so hard and to finally break 23 was incredible,” she recalled. “The other thing that made it so special is that it was Father's Day, so that was my gift to my dad who had coached me my whole high school career, along with my club coach Lascelles Lewis.”
The wave continued the next week in Eugene, another favorite track, where Goodman blasted an even better double of 11.17 and 22.74. That earned her a spot on her second U.S. team, this for the Pan American Juniors in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. There Goodman put the final exclamation point on her stellar prep career – an 11.22/23.08 sweep.
As a high schooler, Goodman largely avoided the adversity of injury, but it struck twice during her freshman year at University of Texas: An ankle injury that required surgery in her first semester, then an Achilles rupture during second semester. Goodman was competing again in 2011, but it was a long road back to where she had been before. She’s proud of the fact that she got fast enough again in 2012 that she made the Olympic Trials in the 100 and 200 and advanced to the 200 semifinals.
Goodman got her degree in marketing in 2013 from the revered McCombs School of Business at UT and in now the Digital Marketing Program Manager at Texas Instruments in Dallas – where she has now been for six years. But her love of track and field has not abated. Training now in a group of women coached by elite mentor Sammy Dabbs, Goodman is aiming at the next Olympic Trials – which will now take place in 2021.
“The training has been really good,” she said. “I feel the best I’ve felt in a very long time.”
But no one has forgotten what Goodman did during her years at Newnan. Last spring, she was inducted into the Georgia Track and Field Hall of Fame.
“It was really great to be remembered for what I did in high school and honored for what I’ve done in the sport,” she said. “I have a lot of great memories.”
Photos from top right: (1) Goodman winning 2009 NON by Vic Sailer; (2) Goodman with parents Harold and Patricia at 2008 NON, by Donna Dye (DyeStat.com, courtesy of Runnerspace.com); (3) Cedric Goodman winning 2004 Mobile MVP, by Donna Dye (DyeStat.com, courtesy of Runnerspace.com); (4) Goodman after winning 2009 NON 200m, from Chalonda Goodman; (5-6) Goodman with her Georgia T&F Hall of Fame award and with father Harold and brother Cedric, from Chalonda Goodman.