Kid sprinter


POSTED: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tyler Whitener may be a sprinter on the Radford track team, but she has actually been told to “;slow down”; this season.

That's because early this spring, the freshman hadn't learned how to scale back in practice, how to work on her form, how to work within the system, how to run with a strategy in mind and not just run fast. So her coach, Elizabeth Patton, had to pull her aside and explain that it's not a terrible thing to “;slow down”; in practice.

“;I took their advice, and in the end it makes you faster,”; Whitener said.

The freshman got the results at the first preseason meet.

“;I realized how fast my times were,”; she said. “;Since then, I've just gotten faster and faster.”;

And faster and faster and faster. She has sprinted some of the fastest times in the OIA this season, despite competing in junior varsity meets for most of the season (only because of her age).

And she's taking her speed to the next level. With the JV season over, Whitener will be moving up to the season-ending varsity meets, joining an already dominant Radford track team that just ended Mililani's 23-year reign atop the OIA West Division.

She will compete in varsity relays this weekend and then the OIA championship trials (April 30) and finals on May 2 at Mililani. The transition from JV to varsity has admittedly given Whitener some nerves because she'll be competing against more experienced runners, but her coach is not concerned.

“;I think it's going to be a smooth transition,”; said Patton, who first noticed Whitener on the JV basketball court and immediately started dreaming of putting that speed on the track. “;It's going to be even better because she's going to have some competition. She's going to rise to the challenge because she's so competitive.”;

Her times speak for themselves.

Whitener has run the OIA's fastest time in the 400 meters (1:01.49), the second-fastest time in the 100 (12.91) and the third-fastest time in the 200 meters (26.8).

Even though she has posted the fastest OIA time, Whitener hates the 400 the most (”;It's one lap,”; she said. “;It's a very long time.”;). But it may end up being her best event. She has the speed so far, but the 400 requires more strategy, something that Whitener is still learning.

At the OIA championships, she will run the three sprints — 100, 200 and 400 — and the two sprint relays — 4x100 and 4x400. Now, she'll be running alongside standout teammate sprinters Kaeli Patton and Andrea Hinkle. Patton owns the fastest time in the OIA in the 100 meters (12.78), and Hinkle has run the second-fastest time in the 200 meters (26.2), just behind Kalani's Laura Kam (26.0).

Without Whitener, Radford has already recorded the fastest OIA times in the two relays.

Who knows how fast the Rams could be with the addition of Whitener.

At just 5-foot-1, Whitener is shorter than most of her competitors. At 15-years-old, she is younger than most of her competitors. With only JV meets under her belt, Whitener is less experienced than most of her opponents.

But don't expect her to “;slow down”; now.

“;She's really explosive,”; coach Elizabeth Patton said. “;She's just a little ball of fire.”;