Candace Young Continues The Family Tradition

May 3, 2001

It seems like Candace Young finally has her place in the sun.

Four years ago, the 5-9 senior sprinter from Woodinville, Wash., was part of the Women of Troy's top-ranked recruiting class. But while Trojan fans were getting excited about incoming stars like Kinshasa Davis and Malika Edmonson, Young was considered the dark horse of the group--an athlete with intriguing, yet untapped, potential.

'I was like the fifth wheel, even though there were only four of us,' recalls Young. 'I didn't come in with all the accolades that the others had. Nobody had heard about me or seen me run. But I've slowly gotten better and better.'

Young has improved to where she is now one of the top sprinters in the collegiate ranks. Last season, she ran the second leg on the Women of Troy's Pac-10-record and NCAA-winning 400-meter relay squad. This season, her 11.22 time (a personal-best) in the 100-meters that she ran against Louisiana State on March 24 leads the Women of Troy and is third in the nation to date. What's more, the time puts her in fourth on the all-time USC 100-meter chart. Young is the first to admit that her race against LSU was a pleasant surprise.

'For me to run 11.22--I didn't expect that,' she said. 'To see my name near the top of the 100-meter lists made me feel at first like I wasn't supposed to be there. But now I want to stay there. It took me a while to get to where I'm at, but I like where I'm at.'

Young's track background begins in Woodinville, where she was a six-time Washington state champion in the 100 and 200 meters during her high school career. Those are remarkable feats considering she didn't benefit from any coaching during that time.

'I was the state champion, but Washington is a different level than California,' said Young. 'I would go run in the Junior Olympics and finish third or fourth against girls from California and Florida and they would ask me who my coach was and I would say `I don't have a coach, I coach myself.'

And it takes a coach to recognize talent. Young first recognized her gifts at the tender age of nine.

'We were at the park and some dog started chasing me,' recalled Young, who to this day still doesn't care for canines. 'I kept running and running and the dog didn't catch me. In fact, he got tired. So I told my dad about it and I started running track in elementary school.'

It was the beginning of the path that led her to USC, but it was a path that was never in doubt. When you are the daughter of former USC All-American tight end Charle Young, being a Trojan is a natural fit. And when it comes to being a Young, championships run in the family.

'I remember always looking at his (1972) national championship ring. It was so big. I've always wanted one of my own. I have a ring for winning the NCAA 400-meter relay last year, but I want a team ring, too. This team has all the pieces now. I know in my heart that we can do it. This season is so special to me because this is my last hurrah.'

As for the comparisons to her father, Young (whose sisters Chanel and Cerenity compete in the heptathlon and shot put, respectively, for USC) doesn't mind one bit.

'I love being compared to my father,' she said. 'My dad did great things and I come from him, so that means I come from great things. So it (people mentioning the relationship) doesn't bother me. I love hearing about my dad and what he accomplished.

'I am so happy I came to USC. Being here has helped me to develop and grow.'

Now with her collegiate career winding down, Young is looking towards an uncertain future.

'Last year at this time, if someone asked me if I wanted to continue to run, I'd have said `No,' ' said Young. 'But now I'm thinking about it. For me with track, there is definitely a thin line between love and hate. Sometimes I hate this sport so much because of how it makes me feel, but I also love how it makes me feel with the end product.

'When you run track, people say `Oh, there's that fast girl, she runs track.' And now that I'm a senior and will be leaving, no one will ever say that again. I don't know yet if I want it to stop. So maybe I'll continue.'

One thing that is not uncertain is her goals for herself and for the Women of Troy.

'At the NCAAs, I want our team to win, for our 400-meter relay to win and for myself to place in the top three in the 100 meters,' she said.

If you haven't learned by now, this is one dark horse you don't want to bet against.

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