If Meghan Hunter had any doubts on whether her first sub-53 effort at 400 meters was a fluke, she made sure to quiet her own concerns this past weekend in Provo.
The Provo (UT) High junior, who went 52.59 at the end of April, stretched to the line at the BYU High School Invitational on Saturday in 52.63, her second straight outing under 53 seconds. She also won the 200m in a wind-legal 24.42 (-0.9) at altitude.
While just four hundredths of a second separates either performance at 400 meters, what's more is that Hunter now owns the No. 1 time in the country, not to mention a Utah state record.
"I'm just really grateful for how the season has gone," said Hunter, whose sister, Kate, is a freshman with the BYU women's track and field team. "If freshman year someone had told me I'd be running 52s, I wouldn't have believed them. It's a really weird, but a really good feeling. I'm pretty exciting with how everything has gone so far."
And yet, if someone were to look at Hunter's development from her freshman season, they may not be surprised with how far she's come, either. Hunter posted a best of 55.77 in 2016, went 54.35 as a sophomore and now has hit 52.59 as a junior.
She may be one of the most versatile sprint-to-mid-distance talents in the country, with an all conditions PR of 11.96 seconds in the 100m, 24.20 (-0.2) in the 200m, 43.49 in the 300mH and 2:12.30 in the 800m.
Entering the BYU High School Invitational, Hunter was well aware of what her US No. 1 performance meant from a state and national scale. She said that fact chased her in the 400m on Saturday.
"Leading up to the race, I was pretty stressed and felt I had a lot of pressure on myself, just because of how last race went," she said. "I just wanted to get close to where I was last week. I was pretty stressed out, but I just knew I had to start out fast like I did last week and coming around the final 2(00m) felt pretty good. The final straight was a lot more tiring then it usually does."
If any pressure has lifted since then, it's that of the state record, which Hunter hit on April 28 at the Davis Invitational in Kaysville. She had been just four hundredths of a second off the state mark on April 19 when she went 53.43 at Provo.
She said her only goal at Davis was to go for the record.
"Going into that race, I knew I really wanted to hit that," Hunter.
And now the biggest benchmarks remaining for Hunter is to finish out her junior campaign with some very obvious goals: She hasn't won a state championship in Utah yet.
In fact, she didn't even make it out of the 400m quarterfinals in 2017. She finished 11th in the 100. She didn't even run in the 200m.
This time around, she says, she'll be competing in four events.
"I've never really had great luck at state, so I'm just hoping for state to go a lot better this year," she said.
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Hunter's interview with MileSplit Utah editor Josh Ornelas was transcribed and written by Cory Mull