THE "X" FACTOR: Tigers Harrell A Scientist In The Pit, On The Track
SPRING WOODS SENIOR XAVIER HARRELL SEES SIMILARITIES BETWEEN TRACK AND FIELD AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE. HE KNOWS YOU MAY THINK THAT TO BE ODD, BUT HEAR HIM OUT.
“With environmental science, you have to analyze everything and look at every little detail,” Harrell said. “Every little organism, bacteria, tree is important and has its purpose. Same thing in track and field. You have to pay attention to form, analyze how high or low you’re jumping, study all your options. It’s a lot of analyzation. It’s a lot of trial and error.”
Harrell would know. Track and field and environmental science are his passions, and he is a devoted student of both.
Harrell is a phenomenal athlete. He competes in the 200-meter dash, long jump, triple jump and runs all three relays (4x100, 4x200, 4x400) for the Tigers.
This season alone, he has established personal records in the 200-meter dash (23.24 seconds), long jump (22-feet-5-inches), and triple jump (41-feet-8-inches).
He credits his breakout season to his three coaches: Spring Woods track and field coach Rodrick Baxter, Spring Woods jumps/sprints coach Scott Harrell (Harrell’s father), and personal trainer Chris Carter, a two-time AllAmerican who went to the Olympic trials.
Carter helped Harrell switch up his mentality.
“I had to stop thinking about jumping for distance,” Harrell said. “If you do that, everything that comes before you getting out into the pit will be wrong or forced. Coach Carter switched my mindset to execution over brute force and power.”
Harrell credits Baxter’s grueling, exhaustive workouts for improved consistency as a runner. Harrell’s speed, explosion, and form are better this season as a result.
Along with his father, Harrell has taken something from each coach.
“Being able to have that relationship with all three of them over the summer coming into this year, I’ve been able to do way better than I’ve ever done before,” Harrell said.
But Harrell is so much more than a jumper and runner. He is as much a student as he is an athlete.
Harrell wants to go to college at Florida A&M and study environmental science. He wants to be a difference maker.
“When people say my name or think of me, I want them to see me as a scientist who wants to go out and save the world,” Harrell said. “Make this world a better place.”
Harrell’s parents, Scott and Tyra (Spring Branch ISD’s lead athletic trainer), have VHS tapes of him watching “Finding Nemo” as a two-year-old. Harrell was, and still is, fascinated with the movie. It’s where his love of environmental science began.
“Every single time that movie was done, I’d want to start it all over again,” he said. “It’s a great movie, even now. Back then, I think I loved a lot of the vibrant colors. The coral reefs, Bruce (the shark), Crush (the turtle.) I loved every part of that.”
As he got older, Harrell became more intrigued with science and experimenting with things.
“I loved nature and different animals and was very involved in learning anything I could about animals, the earth, space, the ocean,” Harrell said.
When he was a freshman, Harrell knew what he wanted to do with his life. He knew environmental science was for him. It incorporated both science and math, two subjects he is particularly fond of.
As much as Harrell enjoys track and field for feeding his competitive desires, he wants more than just personal records on a track or in the pit. Harrell’s parents have emphasized to him the big picture of life, family and legacy.
Harrell is all-in to being his best self, for his family and the world around him.
“My parents motivated me to be the best person I can be, and they’re there if I ever need something,” Harrell said. “My parents want me to pass down to my kids about being better than the last generation. That’s a major thing. They make sure I have it better than they did, and I will make sure my kids have it better than I do. I want to make sure our family is progressing. That’s my main inspiration.”