Running and jumping toward the ultimate prize
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE - The stage and the potential prizes can’t get any bigger than this weekend for Sabrina Moore and Cheyenne Hutchinson.
Moore, a sprinter at North Mecklenburg High, and Hutchinson, a hurdler and long jumper at Hopewell High, will compete at the N.C. 4A championship track meet at N.C. A&T on Saturday, May 19.
They’re both coming off championship performances in two individual events at the N.C. 4A West Regional meet last weekend. Moore won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, and Hutchinson won the 100-meter hurdles and long jump.
They’re decorated champions, they’re peaking and they’re ready.
“I actually like a big crowd,” said Moore, a junior. “It makes me work harder knowing more people are watching me. It won’t be any different for me.”
Moore’s winning regional time in the 100-meter preliminary was 11.79 seconds, the 21st-fastest in state history. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, she followed up by winning the final in 11.82 seconds. She was very close to the regional record of 11.77.
“I kind of aimed toward that,” Moore said, referring to the regional mark. “Last week I tried to work on my arms (movement) getting out of the blocks. I asked my mom to watch, and she said it was a little better. So, I’m trying to work on it more heading into states.”
Moore said she was “frustrated a little bit” in the 200-meter dash, despite everyone finishing behind her.
“I really wanted to break 24 (seconds),” she said. “I ran a 24.74, which wasn’t a PR (personal record), but it was a strong race. I’m focusing on my turnover coming out of the curve. Last week I focused on going into the curve.
“This year I’ve realized when everyone is at the top, the small things count.”
Hopewell’s Hutchinson knows all about small margins being the difference between winning and losing. She won the 100-meter hurdles in 14.09 seconds, the 12th-fastest time in state history. But, it was a scant .01 of a second ahead of runner-up Alvonna Blakney on West Mecklenburg High.
They’ll meet up again Saturday at the state meet, along with other champions from around North Carolina.
“I liked going into tough competition,” said Hutchinson, a senior. “I’m not going to say they were easy races to run. It’s just a race you have to be consistent with the hurdles, and consistent in between the hurdles. I have to go in strong and just run hard.”
Hutchinson began hurdling as an eighth-grader, when a coach looked at her, said “you’ve got long legs,” and pushed her into the event.
“I’d never done it,” Hutchinson said. “They told me to jump the hurdle, but I didn’t know what kind of form you needed. They demonstrated, I did it and it was just naturally there. I love it.”
Hutchinson said form is the most important factor in a hurdles race. She must clear 10 hurdles in the 100-meter distance. The three steps between each hurdle – it’s always three steps, she said – are also vital.
“Form is very important in hurdling, and the quickness in between the hurdles is very important,” she said. “So it’s that three-step motive that you have to have. You have to be quick. There have been races where I’ve nipped the hurdles, and it cost me (time). You have to be very consistent and persistent, over the hurdles.”
Hutchinson won the long jump at the regional by jumping 17 feet, nine inches. She also finished third in the 300-meter hurdles to complete a very busy afternoon.
“She was on the track for about two hours straight,” Hopewell coach
Michelle Lapointe said. “She’d jump, go run a race, jump some more, then go run another race.”
Lapointe said Hutchinson didn’t get too caught up in registering the 12th-fastest time in state history in the 100-meter hurdles, because the 13th-fastest was right behind her.
Hutchinson said she’s met most of her goals this season and said visualizing them is just as important as physically working toward them.
Lapointe chuckled when she recalled Hutchinson’s track start at Hopewell two years ago.
“Cheyenne set a goal, and then in the first invitational meet we had, she broke it,” Lapointe said. “I told her we’ve got to make some new goals.”
“I have to have the mindset that I’m going to win, a mindset that it’s not going to be easy,” Hutchinson said. “It will be tough competition, but I feel like it’s anybody’s race. I’m not going in there cocky. I just have to be confident in myself and run hard.”
So, what makes a good hurdler or sprinter, where winners and losers can be determined by fractions of a second?
Said Moore: “A good sprinter is someone who can use technique really well. Sprinting is not a long race, so you’ve got to have the technique down. Once you get the technique and form, then your speed and endurance, that’s what makes you good.”
Said Lapointe: “First is having natural talent, but there are people with natural talent who don’t achieve what they should because the work ethic isn’t there. If you don’t want to work, sports isn’t the thing for you. And that’s for almost anything in life. Cheyenne sets goals for herself.”
This weekend, on the state’s biggest track stage, it will be about form, fine-tuning and focus.
“Putting everything together that I’ve learned and practiced,” Moore said. “I’ve worked really hard.”
Track and field news
• The Lake Norman Charter’s boys 4 x 800 relay team of Michael Westbay, Nathan Farber, Stephen Hack and Chris Hack finished second at the N.C. 1A meet on Saturday, May 12. They combined for a time of 8:21.35.
• Lake Norman Charter’s Stephanie Zaino finished third in the girls 3,200-meter run. She finished in 12:24.47.
• North Mecklenburg High qualified three relay teams and three individuals for the N.C. 4A championship meet on Saturday, May 19. Christopher Thompson was second in the 100-meter dash at the regional meet, Chris Randall was fourth in the discus and Michael Perkins was fourth in the 400-meter run.
North Mecklenburg’s girls relay teams qualified in the 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 events by finishing third and fourth respectively, at the regional. The Vikings’ boys finished third in the 4 x 200 relay to qualify for the state event.
• Hopewell’s Chandler Chase advanced to the N.C. 4A final with a third-place regional finish in the 300-meter hurdles. The Titans’ relay team finished fourth in the 4 x 100 regional.