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Catch me if you can

100-meter dash more than about raw talent

Catch me if you can

Michael Cotton is one of Cal State Stanislaus' top sprinters, as he boasts a time of 11.66 seconds in the 100-meter dash.


POSTED April 8, 2011 9:36 p.m.

What does Cal State Stanislaus sprinter Lauren Young think about in a 100-meter dash when her arms are driving back and forth, her legs are rapidly moving along and her heart sounds like a million rhinoceros stomping?
Nothing.
In the shortest sprint event in the sport of track and field, there’s not much time to think about anything other than running as fast as you can.
“The 100 is kinda hard to mentally prepare for,” said Young, a freshman sprinter who’s a recent graduate of Turlock High. “It’s literally 13 seconds. It’s just, ‘You run as fast as you can.’”
The men’s race is even faster. It’s one of those track events that spectators of this year’s NCAA Division II Championships — held at Warrior Stadium on May 26-28 — will undoubtedly watch for, knowing that a blink might mean missing a second or two of the race. It’s so fast that an athlete can hold his or her breath for the entire race, but that’s not the smartest thing to do.
“You don’t want to do that,” Stanislaus coach Geoff Bradshaw said. “You’ll die at the end.”
Spectators always anticipate the race, as they did during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, when they knew a world record was at risk. The 100-meter dash is the simplest race of all, as it requires the runners to sprint down a straight path after the starting gun goes off.
Yes, an athlete needs to be born with natural abilities to perform well in all of the track and field events. But with the 100-meter dash, raw talent is just a start. They then build it with endless hours of practice involving sprinting and jumping drills, as well as weight lifting. As with any other of the track and field events, being mentally strong also helps.
This is an event that typically decides who is the world’s fastest human. Right now, it’s Jamaican Usain Bolt, the superhuman who holds the world record time of 9.58 seconds, which some sport experts say is about 30 years ahead of time.
At Stanislaus, the 100-meter times of the current Warriors are nowhere near Usain’s mark, obviously. But they’re still special athletes who work every day to drop just a tenth of second from their time. This group includes Micah Judish, Jesse Ooten and Michael Cotton for the men’s team and Young, Brittni Showers and Kirsten Word for the women’s.
“In order to be a good, good sprinter, you have to be very explosive,” said Bradshaw, a former 100-meter dasher himself. “You have to have good timing. You have to have patience not to false-start. To summarize, the more explosive, the better technique you have, the better you’ll be in (the 100-meter dash).”
Naturally, 100-meter runners are born with speed. They’re known as the fastest athletes in whatever sport they take up, whether it is football, soccer or basketball. They become easy targets for high school track coaches to approach them during their teenage years, offering a chance to simply run as fast as they can. That’s how most of these Warriors got started.
A perfect race would consist of no slipups, such as a bad start. Runners then focus on making the transition to maxing out their speed before finishing the race. But again, there’s not much time to think about that.
“I just try to clear my mind of everything and rely on my training,” said Judish, also a Pitman High graduate. “The more you think about things, the worse you do. You have to rely on your own ability.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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