Friday, July 17, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> CHS sprinter shows endurance at USATF

Cabot sprinter Britton Alley is on his way to the USATF Junior Nationals after winning the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, and finishing second in the 400m at the Tulsa Regional.
Leader sportswriter

In spite of having to run back-to-back-to-back races in the finals of the USA Track and Field’s Region 9 championships in Tulsa, Okla. on Sunday, Cabot High School sprinter Britton Alley won two sprint events and set a personal record in another.

Alley, who will be a junior this upcoming school year at CHS, won the 100- and 200-meter sprints at Sunday’s USATF Regional championships, and placed second overall in the 400-meter race, but set a personal record of 49.90 seconds in that race.

Making the feat more impressive is the fact that Alley ran all three of the final races right after the other because of the way the meet was scheduled. The first of Alley’s races Sunday was the 400, where he placed second and set a new PR.

He had to immediately go back to the start line and run the 100-meter finals, where he took first place with an 11.51-second finish. Then, Alley once again went directly back to the start line for his third and final race of the day, where he took first place in the 200 with a time of 22.76 seconds.

The grueling effort by Alley qualified him to compete at the USATF National championships in those three events later this month, which will be held in Jacksonville, Fla.

Alley excelled on the CHS track and field team as a sophomore this past school year, so the fact that he excelled on Sunday against competitors in his own age group, the 15-16-year-old division, isn’t a surprise.

Although, considering his three finals races took place right after one another, even Alley wasn’t sure he’d be able to place first after running a PR in the quarter mile.

“When finals hit, I was really sore,” said Alley. “I had just run the 400 in 49.90 and I got second place, so I didn’t really know how I’d do. And I knew some of the guys in the 100 didn’t have to do what I had to do with the 400. So I was going for first, but I would’ve been OK if I got second or third.”

Instead of getting second or third, though, Alley finished the day by winning the 100- and 200-meter races, and did so in dominant fashion. Alley has continued to improve and excel this summer after his solid campaign as a 10th grader, and even though he’s dedicated himself full time to the sport, he hasn’t been doing it very long.

“It wasn’t until January that I got into track,” Alley said. “My dad convinced me, you’ve got this ability and you need to go do something with it. So I was like, well, I’ve got track. It wasn’t really my thing, but it keeps me in shape so I guess I’ll do it.

“Starting off, I was pretty slow because I was off like half the year, and I don’t know what it was, but one day I guess I woke up and I was running 22s, 11s. Since then I’ve been dedicated 100 percent.”

Alley set the top times on the Panthers’ track team this past year in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races. His best times during the school year were 11:29 seconds in the 100, 22.50 in the 200, and 53.83 in the 400.

The fact that he’ll just be a junior this upcoming school year and the fact that he continues to improve on his times has the CHS track and field coaches excited about Alley’s future.

“I know he broke 50 seconds in the 400 here recently,” said Cabot track and field coach Leon White of Alley. “Anytime you get a sophomore that goes under 50 in the quarter (mile), that’s pretty good. He’s just a young, good sprinter that’s coming up and doing a great job.

“He’s doing great and we’re excited about what he’s doing. He’s taken it to another level during the summer. He’s improving, he’s got great technique. But the big thing is he’s hungry to do well in track. He’s willing to work and he’s not afraid to compete.

“When you get somebody young that’s excited about running, hopefully they’re going to keep getting better and better.”

Not being afraid to compete is something CHS sprint coach Chris Beavert echoed about his junior sprinter.

“The thing that Britton does really well is he’s not afraid to run any race,” said Beavert. “He jumped right in there. He was a decathlete for us this year as a sophomore. There are 10 events, and there was probably three or four of them that he’d never done in his life two or three days before the decathlon.

“The thing about the sprinters, in my opinion, a lot of sprinters don’t like to run that 400. Britton, he didn’t care. He trained at the 400 and it made him a better 200 guy and 100 guy.”

Alley has also set high goals for himself next year. He said if his nagging hip injury will allow it, that he’d like to compete in the three jumping events – the long jump, high jump and triple jump, in addition to the three sprinting events he routinely competes in once the school track season gets underway in 2016.

As far as sprinting, though, Alley said his goals are to break the school records in those events.

“If I can beat those I’ll be set,” Alley said of the sprinting records, “but I’m really trying to get into jumping, because I used to be a jumper. But with my hip injury, I wasn’t able to jump. So I want to see how I could do in jumping.

“If I do well, I’ll keep jumping, but for sprints, I’m looking to get my times around 10.70 (in the 100) and low 21s in the 200 and in the 400, 48 or 47 (seconds), as a junior.”

Whether or not Alley can achieve the goals he’s set for his upcoming junior season remains to be seen, but with his work ethic and potential, White says he’s on pace to really excel by the time he’s a senior.

“He’s on target to run a pretty good time by the time he’s a senior,” White said. “Coach Beavert and I talked about it the other day – if he continues to keep getting better and better like he’s doing, then by the time he’s a senior he could run 48 in the quarter, which would be great.

“It’s always exciting when you get a quality athlete that you know has the potential to be really good and compete at a high level at state meets and the Meet of Champs and possibly qualify for some regional or national meets.

“We’re definitely excited about Britton accomplishing what he has this summer. I just wish we had more like him.”

“Britton understands what it’s going to take,” Beavert said. “He sees that, and that to me, combined with he’s a coachable kid and his respect for the sport and his respect for the work ethic that you have to put in, he’s got a chance to be really, really good.

“His sprinting form is really, really good for the limited time that he’s put in practicing on it. He’s got great grades academically. He’s got a high ceiling right now. Britton has the ability to be as good of a male high school track athlete that’s come through Cabot since I’ve been here for sure. So we’re excited about him.”

As far as the dedication, training and natural ability it takes to excel to the level Alley wishes to in the sport, it takes 100 percent effort day in and day out, according to Alley, and the willingness to do the work required to be the best of the best.

“It’s definitely not a sport for people who are on and off,” Alley said. “You have to work at it 100 percent every day. To go to a meet like Florida, you have to be the best of the best.”

The USATF National championships begin July 27 and end on Aug. 2.