Mead’s Tavon Underwood breaks Colorado record in men’s 4A 400 meters
LAKEWOOD — Mead senior Tavon Underwood’s record-breaking performance in the Class 4A 400 meters at the CHSAA track and field meet on Saturday was mesmerizing, a true testament to his lightning speed.
After failing in the 100-meter final earlier Saturday morning, Underwood was positioned in the fifth lane with his head down, concentrating on the task at hand. When the gun went off, Underwood was out of focus. Three runners had the lead on Underwood for a few seconds before he passed them. As the senior neared the finish line, it was obvious he was about to do something bigger than win.
Underwood received cheers after his first-place finish at Jeffco Stadium. But the cheers grew even louder when the public announcer shouted that his time of 45.36 had broken Colorado’s prep record that had stood since 2006.
“We all saw it coming,” said Underwood, who was not far off the national record of 45.19 set in 2012. “It was just a question of whether I could run or not. do.”
Underwood didn’t need a reminder of his achievement. Prior to the state championship, he kept track of all Colorado and national records from every event he entered. While going through the record books, he wondered if he could write history.
Indeed, he did.
“I don’t think anyone will go lower than that,” said Underwood, a Kansas state clerk.
Drew White is in his first season coaching Mead, but Underwood has given him enough memorable moments that it’s hard to keep track. After the 400 meter race, Underwood completed the 200 meter sprint in 20.93 seconds, breaking the 4A state record. On Friday, he won the 4A men’s 800 meters championship in 1:51.97, although he competed in the event for the second time in his track career.
“There’s a jaw-dropping moment every time (he) walks onto the track,” White said. “It’s an awesome sight to behold.”
The source of Underwood’s success has been his mental approach. White called Underwood an “incredibly stoic” person who keeps his emotions from getting the better of him. It’s hard to tell what kind of mood Underwood is in, as he maintains a level-headed attitude in everything he does.
“It might not be the same for others, but I think it’s important to stay calm and composed so you can execute what you’ve been practicing,” Underwood said.
White said Underwood was a role model for the Mavericks. He praised the senior’s humility, championship spirit and work ethic.
“The kids on the track team look up to him,” White said. “He had an impact on our team, especially the younger ones (by) showing the success you can have when you work hard.”
After battling injuries as a junior, Underwood said consistent training contributed to his big moment Saturday in the 400 meters. When Underwood approached the second curve, he knew the race was his to lose.
“I had so much energy in me that I never expected to have,” Underwood said. “I doubted anyone else had that kind of energy, so I went as fast as I could and ended it.”
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