Results from her work didn’t always come instantly for East senior Tori Spann.
Sure, she could break 13 seconds in the 100-meter dash, which is considered fast for most, but she never won a race or qualified for the Class 6A state track and field meet in her first three seasons.
Then something changed.
The fourth year of her speed training kicked in. The fourth year of her weight training paid off. The fourth year of tirelessly work on mechanics mattered.
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Now Spann enters this weekend’s Class 6A meet at Cessna Stadium with the fastest qualifying time in the 100, just a tick above 12 seconds. Suddenly, a state championship is realistic.
“I’d imagine it would feel pretty great to have all that glory,” Spann said. “All that hard work.…”
Here’s how Spann is hoping the work pays off.
Phase one: Blocks
When Spann sets her blocks for the start, everything from the angle of her shins to how much weight she’s putting on her back leg matters. Every little detail in the set-up matters to Spann.
“You have to be a perfectionist when it comes to stuff like that,” Spann said.
In a 100-meter dash, the start can’t win the race but it can certainly lose it.
East sprints coach Bill Coffman says that Spann rarely gets off to a poor start. Her reaction time to the gun is usually among the best and her explosion out of the blocks is a strong suit.
“It’s exciting to watch,” Coffman said. “She’s such a technician when it comes down to her footing and positioning. That goes back to all that hard work.”
Phase two: Drive
Coming out of the blocks, Spann makes it a point to keep her head down for at least the first 30 meters.
“If you come out of the blocks straight up, you’re not giving yourself that ability to drive,” Spann said. “You lose a lot of momentum coming out doing that. So that’s why I try to keep my drive phase as long as possible.”
If Spann is behind at this point in the race, then her competitive spirit kicks in.
“I just really hate to lose,” Spann said. “I don’t really have anything against the other runners. They’re pretty fast, too. But I want to beat them so bad.”
Some runners panic if they fall behind early and try to reach their peak speed too fast.
Spann, who is quiet on and off the track, never has a problem knowing when to kick it in, according to her coach.
“She’s just so steady and level-headed,” Coffman said. “She just goes out and performs. I don’t think Tori allows stuff like that to get to her. She’s ready for anything.”
Phase three: Finish
When Spann was a child, she would race anyone on the playground. Boy, girl, it didn’t matter. Spann just wanted to win.
Spann’s first love is basketball, which she is signed to play at Garden City Community College, but she says nothing compares to the thrill of sprinting 100 meters in front of a crowd.
“It’s such a rush of adrenaline,” Spann said. “There’s nothing like it.”
So in the last 20 meters when every stride affects the outcome of a state championship, Coffman wouldn’t take anyone but Spann.
“Adrenaline is a great legal drug,” Coffman said. “When Tori gets that kick of adrenaline, I’ve seen her run down about anybody. Who knows what her potential is?”
Repeating a time close to 12 seconds flat will likely be needed to claim a title. Maybe even breaking 12.
That task isn’t daunting to Spann.
“I’m more than ready,” Spann said. “I do get a little skeptical at times because this is my first time qualifying for state in an individual event, but once I get on the track that’s when my confidence will go back up. I’m going to run like it’s the last time I’m ever going to run. I’m going to put all my heart into it.”