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The need for speed never more evident

Jazmyn Shorter has conquered the state in the 400, now she'll see where she measures up against national powers.

By BOB PUTNAM, Times Staff Writer
Published June 15, 2006

Jazmyn Shorter made it look easy.

When the Lakewood senior-to-be blazed across the finish line to win regular-season titles in the 400 meters, she usually was 10 meters in front of the pack and accelerating.

No runner dominated this most demanding of all races so completely or made it look so simple. A few even suggested she was holding back, conserving energy for the 200 meters.

At the Class 3A meet, Shorter had the perfect race unfold beneath her feet. She nailed her start in the 400 meters, rose to a full sprint and in the homestretch could feel this was the race in which all the pieces would fall into place.

She won her first state title in a personal-best 55.04 seconds.

Five weeks later, Shorter still is running fast, performing in the manner expected of a 400-meter champion by constantly testing the limits of human speed.

Her biggest test comes Saturday, when she competes against the nation's best at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

Shorter is in the sixth heat, the fast heat. Among the competitors she'll face are Jessica Beard of Ohio, Brandi Cross of Texas and Sade Williams of California, who all finished 1-2-3 in the 400 at the Golden West Invitational in California last week.

"This is an elite field," said Garlynn Boyd, who coaches Shorter with the Lightning Bolt track club. "All three of those girls have run the 400 in 53 seconds or better."

Those are not the only runners Shorter has to worry about. She also is entered in the 200 and will run against Mississippi's Bianca Knight, the fastest sprinter in the nation.

Still, Boyd thinks Shorter can thrive in both races.

That's because she has rarely been tested.

"It's going to be a challenge to win," Boyd said. "But I think she can do well. We still really don't know what Jazmyn is capable of just from the lack of competition."

Shorter has proven she can beat some of the best. Two weeks ago, she won the 400 at the Bert M. Warden Golden South Classic in Orlando. The meet attracts more than 200 athletes from 12 states and the Caribbean.

"The big thing we're asking Jazmyn to do is run better than the week before," Boyd said. "We don't want to put a time in front of her because she'll have a lot of pressure. But we think she can have a personal best."

[Last modified June 15, 2006, 01:30:12]


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