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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Foundation for success

Seniors Justin Oliver and Chris Dykes have had different roads to success, but when arriving at Texas A&M, their paths crossed thanks to Head Coach Pat Henry.
After winning two national championships at Louisiana State, Henry joined A&M in 2004. Henry recruited his foundation in Oliver and Dykes.
“Both of these guys are very talented and have come a long way from the time they were freshman,” Henry said. “These were the first guys we recruited here.”
Oliver and Dykes run on the 4×100 and 4×200-meter relays. Dykes runs the third leg of the race and Oliver runs the fourth. Because they hand the baton off to each other, it takes chemistry to succeed.
“The good thing about me and Chris being three and four is that we have been together for four years,” Oliver said. “We know what to expect from each other and we know each other’s faults and what each other’s strong points are.”
Oliver and Dykes have been running relays together their entire collegiate career and they recognize the need for a trusting relationship.
“I have to be able to trust him, to know what he’s going to do and he has to be able to trust me because I am handing off to him,” Dykes said.
Oliver has been running track for 10 seasons but did not start that way.
“I started out playing football first,” Oliver said. “I was going to run but I played basketball as well so those two sports ran further than expected so I had to miss track that year. So then the next year I said I was going to run to see how I did, and I did well so I just kept doing it.”
Dykes said he has run track since 10th grade and football helped the transition. Track coaches saw Dykes running the 40-yard dash and asked him to try for the track team.
When deciding who to run for, both Dykes and Oliver said the coaches were one of the main reasons for coming to A&M.
“In high school my top choices were Tennessee and LSU,” Oliver said. “When I got a phone call from A&M and I realized who the coaches were here, it’s like I’m kind of getting the best of both worlds. I’m getting all that stuff from LSU and all that stuff from Tennessee coming together.”
Oliver was ranked No. 2 in the country his senior year and had several schools to choose from. Dykes was mostly recruited by Big 12 schools.
“[Assistant Coach Vince] Anderson called me one night and asked me if I was interested in coming here on a visit,” Dykes said. “And once I heard who the coaches were I was ready to sign then.”
Oliver and Dykes spend much of their time together as a part of the men’s sprint group and have developed a strong friendship.
“Our whole sprint group is pretty close because we are always sitting together all the time and cracking jokes and everything so we are all pretty comfortable and close with each other,” Dykes said. “We can depend on each other. If I get in trouble I can call Gerald Phiri and Oliver late at night and tell them that my car broke down, they will come. We have that kind of friendship.”
The pair is on the eve of graduating and plan on running professionally.
Oliver, an environmental studies major, said he is hoping to go to graduate school but will pursue track if it’s his calling. His dream is to represent the U.S. on the national track team at the Olympics.
Dykes, an agricultural development major, said graduate school is a possibility and might be another way to continue running.
Whether or not Oliver and Dykes will cross paths in their professional careers is still in question, but their four years here at A&M have done much for the program and they still have races to run wearing the same uniform.

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