Until one day it clicked.
"Toward the end of last year, it’s like the light bulb went off in his head,” Hawkins said. "Since then, he’s been a different person and a different runner.”
Hawkins’ passion ignited the change in Henderson, and his progression hasn’t stopped since.
"I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent in front of the mirror just working on my form — working on only having my hands and legs moving when I’m running,” Henderson said.
With less than one full year of training under his belt, Henderson qualified for last year’s state meet in the 100 meters and placed seventh.
Henderson has built off his success and is now one of the leaders of the Wolves’ squad this season.
"He’s someone who is always striving for more, always willing to do that something extra,” Santa Fe junior star Gunnar Nixon said. "He never wants to leave the track.”
It’s become Henderson’s heart, he said. He had never been around people who loved the sport so much until he came to Santa Fe. Now he understands why people grow up wanting to be world and Olympic champions.
"A lot of people see track as a way to keep in shape for football or basketball — you know, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” Henderson said. "What I love about track is my time is my time. It speaks for itself. No matter how you feel about me, that’s my time.
"There are no politics in track. You get what you put into it. The winning is nice, but honestly it’s seeing the progress being made that I enjoy the most.”
The progress isn’t just on the track, though it has led to Henderson getting some looks from Division I schools. And the looks should increase as his times get faster and faster leading up to the state meet.
However, it’s the maturity he’s shown since his life was turned upside down two years ago that has been the biggest difference in Henderson.
"Some people thought I left (Southeast) to get away, but I felt I left to make a way — to make something happen,” Henderson said. "Things with my family are doing better. My Mom is always going to be my Mom. My brother is always going to be my brother, but I’m happy with the way things have turned out.”