Friday Focus: Arria Minor And Denver Lightning


Minor after competing at Simplot Games.

One of the coldest days so far of 2018 in Denver has forced student-athletes inside Denver East High School on Wednesday.

It's 6:30 PM, well after school hours, and the drama club is bustling back and forth from the chorus room to the auditorium. Lacrosse players work out on the stairs. Baseball and rugby players zip by. Every available space, it seems, is occupied by students buzzing around.

Despite all of this, Denver East head track and field coach Steve Kiper can be heard above the noise. He's coaching the Denver Lightning, the track club which he coaches during the indoor season. Colorado doesn't have a governing athletics association for indoor track, so the only teams during the winter are club teams.

"Sixteen, 17, 18," Kiper counts off in a rhythmic tempo, as junior Arria Minor and freshman Kyairra Reigh come zooming around the corner.

"Nineteen, 20, 21, 22, 23," he continues as they cross the finish line.

"All right, that's 22-flat. Arria just went 22-flat and Kyairra just went 23.49," he says.

The girls are finishing up the last of their eight 150m sprints in the small and crowded hallways around the school's auditorium. It's not the easiest thing to do, training inside a school, but Kiper says it's a system the team has made work.

"It's very hard, that's why we kinda keep it tapered down," Kiper says. "They kind of have a technique: they know how to let up on the curves a little bit, float through it, then they come down the straights.

"And we'll have some guys here watching, and we will be waving and signaling so we can keep an eye on everybody when they are coming through. You've got to make use of your facilities and this is all we got."   

With a little over two weeks before New Balance Nationals Indoor, this is a key workout for Minor and the team.

"They need this hard work right now because of their energy systems," Kiper says. "We've got to make sure we keep energy systems up at all levels, whether it's tempo work, speed endurance, special endurance. They've got to get that to get that stuff in the next two weeks, otherwise they won't be any good running in another couple of weeks from now."

Minor is coming off two weeks of quality performances at the Great Southwest Indoor Classic and the Simplot Games.

In both meets, she ran, within comparison, some of the fastest times in the country, in everything from the 60m dash to the 400m.

datemeeteventtimeplace

Feb 15, 2018 -

Feb 17, 2018

Simplot Games

60m

400m

7.40

53.47

1st

1st

Feb 10, 2018

Great Southwest Classic

Indoor Invitational

60m

200m

400m

7.41

23.72

53.80

1st

1st

1st


"I definitely think I've been doing good and staying consistent," Minor says. "[I'm] not running too fast or too slow compared my PRs. I think definitely think my consistency has been good. I just want to make sure I keep working hard going into New Balance."

Something that's helped with her consistency, she says, is her pre-race routine.

"I definitely have rituals," Minor says. "I eat the same thing. My diet is really boring. I definitely just make sure I'm doing the same things so my body feels good and I just keep going with the same race models I've been doing."  

Although her consistency has been solid this season, not every race has come easy. Minor says she's dealt with performance anxiety in big races, but she's also looking to overcome that and set a new PR at NBNI.

"I definitely just want to learn how to run under pressure...I think that's a big thing for me to have to learn going into New Balance," she says.

Minor running the 400m at Great Southwest.


One way she deals with it is by singing on the starting line.  

"If you race against me you'll hear me singing," she says, "which is kind of annoying, but it helps me."

Kiper says he just tries to keep her as relaxed as possible.

"I just try to always point [her] back to different training sessions, or previous races that we've negotiated," Kiper says. "So I'll spend some time and we'll go through her race, model her plan, what she does in the best-case situation and of course in the worse case situation which you have to do.

"It all breaks down to time. It's numbers. It's being at certain points at certain times with the numbers. With the clock going, with the crowd cheering, it's on; you know you got this high energy and adrenaline going on, so I just tell her, 'Hey, you know what you're supposed to do, you know how it feels and when you get to a certain point you just got to go for it. If you're down to the last 150 [meters], you know you've got to go for it, there's nothing left. You just stay consistent and just finish your race and just see what happens when you come across the line.'"

Minor will be focusing on the 400m at New Balance Nationals, where she enters as the favorite.

Frisco Heritage (TX) High senior Bailey Lear -- currently US No. 1 at the distance -- will not be running.

"They're a week and a half away from New Balance, so this [workout] kinda gives them a chance to get one good last shot," Kiper says. "Next week, they will get a nice dose of training before New Balance and then they will just rest a little bit, do some short stuff and then just go into New Balance and just let it all happen."

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