It Was Smooth Sailing For Elite Athletes At Eastern Indoors

* Memphis Central's Jordan Ware controlled the 200m on Saturday at Eastern Indoors

Photo Credit: Anna Garcia/MileSplit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- "Smooth" is how Jordan Ware put it. 

No nerves. Didn't feel anxious. Instead, the Memphis Central (TN) senior, one of the country's top sprint talents, commanded the first 200 meter race of his indoor career on Saturday at the Eastern Relays, coming up just 0.06 seconds shy of the Tennessee state record in 21.41 seconds. 

Ware's performance, a U.S. No. 8 mark, was just short of Emmanuel Bynum's 21.35, which was recorded back in 2019.

Once he hit the halfway point, the Mississippi State signee was locked in and rolling down the final turn, loping toward the finish line in a way that signals he's ready for the incoming outdoor season. 

"I'm not in that good of shape yet as I will be for outdoor, but for me to run 21.41 it shows I'm on the right step," he said. "And it's just one step at a time to get right for outdoor."

Heading into Saturday, Ware said, he felt prepared to tackle the race. 

    "I just really prepared my mind," he said. "I was wondering how good I would do in my first indoor 200. And, I'm really comfortable with the time. It shows me where I'm at. Just shows I get better for each race. We use indoor just for prep and use it as preseason, really. We're getting right for outdoor, so that's how I feel about it."


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    As for those first-race jitters? For-get a'bout it.

    "That was smooth," he said. "At first my teammates were like, the banks are the hardest part. I'm like, that was smooth. But in reality, it was smooth. It made me get faster and help me fix my form."

    Meanwhile, over on the girls side, let's talk about Indiana native Lyric Steele

    The Jeffersonville High School junior certainly made a statement, too, barreling past Lane No. 5 en route to a massive win in the 200m. 

    Steele shattered her career best with a time of 24.14, which is now good for U.S. No. 14. She also tied her previous best in the 60m with a time of 7.57.

      "I was kind of ready for it," she said. "I was more ready for it than I ever have before. I felt really confident in myself, that I was going to win and I was going to PR. I executed really well."

      It no doubt was a career day Steele.

      The same could be said for one of the top freshmen in the U.S. 

      Perhaps we can't end without a nod to the young King Combest, the 15-year-old sprinter from Owensboro, Kentucky and the son of 60m national record-holder Casey. 

      Eyes have been on the youngest Combest for a couple seasons now -- which warrants its own kind of pressure -- but it has never looked as though King has let those plights take flight. 

      The proof has been in the pudding, as they say, with constant improvement shown over his efforts: Times of 7.08 and 7.10 as an eighth-grader, followed by a best of 6.97 last week at the Louisville Indoor Games. 

      On Saturday, Combest continued his trajectory upward, posting a new career best of 6.92 seconds. That now stands as the No. 1 time in the freshmen class and it is tied for eighth-best all-time. 

      He didn't win the race on Saturday -- that honor went to Isaiah Rogers, who clocked a time of 6.91 -- but sometimes the best silver linings are the ones that are placed in front of you at face value. 

      At the very least, Combest is climbing.