When Rashaad Woodard competes in a meet, it's usually the first time all week that anyone, including his coach, sees him run.
Woodard, a senior at Bullis, usually gets his workout instructions via e-mail from Tyrome Smith, who has coached him through Gaithersburg's Firebirds Athletic Club since he was 11 years old. He then trains on his own wherever he can find a track.
It's an anonymous existence for a sprinter who has competed overseas with the U.S. World Youth Championships team, routinely records the fastest sprints in Montgomery County and, at Sunday's Nike Indoor Championships, edged the nation's fastest 55-meter sprinter this season, Joe Robinson of Potomac (Va.), for fourth place. That race displayed his improvement in starting a race -- something he has recently worked on with Baltimore's Dameon Johnson, who ran on the U.S. national team 4x400 relay that set the American indoor record of 3:02.83 in Japan in 1999.
But even though Woodard was a standout running back for Bullis, racking up 859 yards and 10 touchdowns, the fact that Bullis lacks a strong track program means that his talent goes virtually unnoticed during the season.
"I'm known, but just to those people who are at summer track meets," Woodard said.
Although the 60-meter dash is not commonly run indoors in the D.C. area, Woodard (6.85), Robinson (6.86) and DeMatha's Anthony Wiseman (6.86) were all ranked in the top 10 nationally this season. At the Feb. 1 Microtel Invitational at Virginia Tech, he ran 6.37 in the 55 to beat a top field that included Wiseman and second-ranked J-Mee Samuels of North Carolina.
It's nothing new for Woodard, who has won 100- or 200-meter titles at the Junior Olympic Championships in every two-year age group since he was 12. His top times are 6.82 in the 60, 10.46 in the 100 and 21.24 in the 200.
In 2001, he ran a 200-meter leg of the USA World Youth Team's sprint medley relay that competed in Hungary and included Texas's Willie Hordge, who finished third on Sunday.
"That was a great experience, just to be able to go overseas to run against people from all over -- from Russia, from Africa -- and have people you would normally run against coming together on the same team."
It also made him feel more at home than many local athletes at the prestigious Nike Indoor Championship, one of two unofficial national championships.
He and Hordge have competed against each other since the age of 13, and between races on Sunday, they bantered about going to college next year. Woodard will play football and run for Delaware, but refuses to think beyond his next training session.
"Every time I set goals for myself, I don't make them for one reason or another, so I'm not setting any goals."
Smith said that's actually one of Woodard's strengths.
"If you listen to Tiger Woods or Serena Williams, they talk about not setting goals, just being in the moment," Smith said. "He has that awareness that 'I just need to focus on the here-and-now and what I need to do to prepare.' "