* Autumn Wilson was the runner-up in the girls freshman 100m final in 2019
Photo Credit: Mary Ann Magnant
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AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Autumn Wilson is a hard critic.
The St. Dominic Savio Catholic (TX) rising junior, who broke into the ranks of Texas's sprint elite this indoor season, says she's still got a long way to go before she completely figures out her races at 100 and 200 meters.
But there's optimism.
"I feel like I"m on the verge of getting my races down consistently," she said.
Wilson was already displaying glimpses of that progression in 2020 before the season was canceled, registering season best times of 11.75 and 24.39 seconds, respectively.
Those performances, on March 6th and March 13th of this year, were just small fractions away from tying her personal best times in those events.
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But her training continued, from public tracks, to open parks, and then back to 400 meter facilities. Wherever it needed to be, Wilson said -- and it was hard to find a routine through the quarantine -- she found a place to train.
Fortunately on Saturday, Wilson and many others will get a chance to once again see what they're capable of at the Leander Spartans Invitational at Liberty Hill High School in North Austin.
"I'm going to keep grinding away at those times," she said.
* MileSplit's Olivia Ekpone breaks one of Autumn Wilson's best indoor races
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Wilson, who is the daughter of Leander Spartans coach Frank Wilson, is entered in the fast sections of the girls 17-18 age group 100m and 200m. Both races will feature some of Texas's top sprinters.
Scheduled to run in the fast section are the likes of Summer Creek's Dynasty McLennon (100/200m), Texas A&M recruit Laila Owens (100), Taehja Badal (100/200m) and Valor Christian's Camille Peisner (200m).
And Wilson won't take that for granted.
In recent weeks, she's been focusing specifically on her drive phase, that important segment of the race that can make or break a sprinter's position as they transition out from a power position and begin to stand up.
"I'm working on getting my first foot down in the beginning of the race to boost my start."
A year ago, as a freshman for St. Dominic Savio Catholic, Wilson was getting there, though she wasn't completely consistent. She ran a PR of 11.72 in her TAPPS 6A District 3 race, and then followed with her first high school state private school champinoship in 11.82.
But at the AAU Junior Olympics, just two months later, Wilson struggled transitioning out from her drive phase and finished fifth-overall in the 15-16 age group in 12.03.
* Wilson in the AAU Junior Olympic 100m final
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But an offseason's worth of work put Wilson in the driver's seat. Honing in on the 60m over the indoor season gave her more incentive to get going earlier, and the times showed off that progression. She scored eight performances under 7.6 seconds and a PR of 7.38, which finished the season at US No. 4.
In the 200m, she broke 24 seconds for the first time officially, hitting 23.80 seconds on the clock at the Texas Tech Under Armour High School Classic -- at altitude. She finished the indoor season ranked No. 32 on the MileSplit50.
"I was feeling pretty confident after my indoor season," she said. "I was really looking forward to going low 23.4 over the outdoor season but I didn't get many chances."
That much was true. Wilson's high school season ended on March 13.
But as time continued on, opportunities did eventually come back. Wilson ran her first race back from the quarantine on June 16, putting down an 12.22 effort. She said her father helped her develop over that stretch.
"He's helped me with my confidence," Wilson said. "He's helped me believe in my ability and myself."
On Saturday, Wilson will go up against returning UIL public-school state champions like McLennon (400m) and Owens (200m), so almost right away she'll find her stiffest competition yet.
"I'm really excited to run at this meet," she said.
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