Photo Margot Kelly
It would be tough to recall a high school athlete to have ran so fast and dominated a strong field as easily as Reggie Wyatt did in the 300 meter hurdles, yet feel as though he had an off race. After all, Wyatt only managed to run a season best US #1 time of 36.01 to win the invitational division at the 2009 Arcadia Invitational.
The La Sierra High School (Riverside, CA) senior had a somewhat shaky start to put him behind his meet goal of a sub 36 performance and maybe national record. "I had to studder step the first hurdle and it just threw my whole race off, so on the second hurdle I had to make up ground." He almost made up for the lost time in a burst of speed approaching the second hurdle to build a huge lead coming off the turn where he seemed to getting back his rhythm. "Coming off the curve, I felt pretty good."
However, Wyatt then alternated lead legs on the homestretch with his steps stil apparently thrown off from his start. "I don't typically alternate lead legs, but today was an off day and had to alternate. I am always ready for it though." Despite not running the perfect technical race, Wyatt was pleased with the improvement in time. "I'm pretty excited about this time. After the race, I wasn't feeling tired or anything. I know I can go get that time and run 35 seconds."
Wyatt, who had to sit out the high school outdoor season last spring due to transfer rules, is determined to finish his final season of high school track by taking down two of the hurdles national records at 300 and 400 meters. "I am just going to keep pushing and get this record."
To get those records, the 2008 Olympic Trials qualifier in the 400 meter hurdles as a high school junior feels it all begins with the start and his first hurdle. "Just being too excited on that first hurdle. That is the only thing that is holding me back. My blocks were slipping earlier, but I just need to get out a little harder."
Wyatt will compete next in the 400 meter dash at Mt. Sac in which he leads the nation in as well at 46.67 currently heading into this past weekend. As one of the nation's top quarter milers, Wyatt seems to be able to recover well from any lapses in the technical part of his races in the hurdles with his superior speed to most of his challengers. In the post-season, it will be the 400 meter hurdles and not dash as the event which will draw his main focus.
Do not expect to see the nation's best in the 300 and 400 meter hurdles at Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro though as Wyatt sees it being too much for him to do both NIN and USATF Junior Nationals in a short time fram. "Just a little too much for the hurdles."
Especially after getting his first taste of international competition last summer as a member of the US squad at World Juniors, Wyatt is determined to wear the red, white, and blue once again. "I look to make that team. I want to PR in the 400 hurdles and break 50 [seconds]. Thats my goal and in the 400 dash, I want to break 46." Especially if he continues to race like he did at Arcadia, he is not going to find few many high school meets in the country with athletes able to press him until he goes beyond the USATF Junior Nationals. "I am just really excited to get to compete against the best and see how I progress."
Asked if it feels reassuring for the potential of how fast he can go after still running a national leading time with some technical errors, Wyatt was very secure and confident about his chances. "Definitely. I want the record and its coming. Nothing to worry about it."