NEWBURYPORT — He runs under pressure and he’d have it no other way.
With his team winning the CAL title for the third year out of the past four, Newburyport boys indoor track captain Sawyer Updike was also named the fastest 1,000 meter runner in the Cape Ann League. The senior also joined Joe Santo, James Nutter and Nick Carleo in the winning 4x800 relay team.
But running wasn’t originally a natural fit for Updike.
“I used to be a very chubby child,” said Updike. “And my mom would make us run around the block. About 300 yards down, I couldn’t finish around the block. But gradually, I was able to run around the block. It became easy, and I also grew, so that helped shave off some of the weight.”
Currently at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, Updike stands out on the track quite literally.
“When he runs the 1,000, you see a lot of small guys. So he stands out,” said coach Tim Foley. “I’m glad he’s on our team.”
The grandson of the late author John Updike, Sawyer started running track in the seventh grade. Updike saw himself as more of a sprinter at the time, but life has a way of changing everyone’s plans.
“I was pulled over to the distance coach one day,” said Updike. “I was told to run along with him. So I did, and then in my races, they could see I was winning and that I was pretty fast.”
The next thing Updike knew, he was a distance man. And although distance requires endurance, Updike can still satisfy the sprinter in himself.
“I have to work on my endurance, but I think my speed is all there,” he said. “I’m not really a long distance person; I’m more of a middle-distance person.”