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Track and field: Underwood among several locals taking advantage of indoor season

Indoor scene growing tremendously


Indoor tracks don’t seem to bother the local high school runners who continue to see their times plummet.

Mead High School student Tavon Underwood, seen here at an indoor event in Arkansas earlier this month, has the state's top indoor 400-meter run time so far this winter. (Photo provided by Edmond Underwood)
Mead High School student Tavon Underwood, seen here at an indoor event in Arkansas earlier this month, has the state’s top indoor 400-meter run time so far this winter. (Photo provided by Edmond Underwood)

Outdoor track season is typically when high school athletes look to improve their times and hopefully achieve some personal records, not the cut-and-thrust atmosphere of the indoor season.

For coach Edmond Underwood and REAL Training, a club track program in Boulder County led by Niwot coach Maurice Henriques, the times and personal records keep dropping, and his sprinters achieved some of the best times in the state.

“The way we prepare and train these young people really has everything to do with it,” Underwood said. “The athletes buying in to what we are teaching is critical as well. We teach both from a physical standpoint and from a mental standpoint and to have the mental toughness to go compete and win against the best in the country.”

Mental toughness is to running as a pen is to writing. You can only be a successful runner with the mental aspect, Underwood explained.

Underwood’s son, Tavon, exudes that toughness as he seeks to continue the outstanding season that has seen him record personal bests in both the 200- and 400-meter dash, which now stand at 21.72 seconds and 47.58 seconds, respectively.

With his races last Saturday at the Texas Tech Under Armour High School Classic, Tavon established himself as one of the top mid-distance sprinters in Colorado and one of the best high school sprinters in the country.

For Tavon, also a standout soccer player, running was not always his number one priority, but once his mindset shifted exclusively to being the best sprinter he could be, there was no looking back.

“My key to success this indoor season was my hunger and motivation just to win,” Tavon said.

“I realized I needed to fully commit to making track my lifestyle. It’s not something you can do on the side. When you get to this level you sort of have to just live it.”

Tavon currently holds the top times in the state in both the 200 and the 400 and the top time in the country for the 400. He hopes to build on his outstanding indoor season and achieve some lofty goals come springtime.

“I am hoping to carry the momentum from indoor into my outdoor season,” a confident Tavon said. “My goal is to run a 45 [second] 400, hopefully break some records and win state, obviously in the 400, 200, and 100.”

With times like the ones Tavon speaks about, he sets himself up to be one of the most talented track athletes in the country. Alongside Tavon are a pair of Boulder County sprinters, Benjamin Classen of Niwot and Chrisly Kelly-Cannon of Jefferson Academy, who, together with Tavon, have dominated the indoor track season.

Classen, a teammate of Tavon with REAL Training, has clocked a 49.37 in the 400 which ranks only behind Underwood for best in the state. At the meet at Texas Tech, Classen recorded his personal best in the 200 (22.72, third in the state). Kelly-Cannon might boast the fastest acceleration of the three, with his state-leading 6.93 60-meter dash time.

“We went into that Texas Tech Under Armour Classic meet with no practice time because of the weather last week, unfortunately,” Edmond said. “Which is impressive when you look at what we did there. It shows you how hard we’ve been working up until that point for our guys were able to go in there and sustain their level having not practiced for well over a week.”

The lack of practice time did not hinder Tavon or Classen, who ran a couple of their best races, as the time off almost acted like a rest period before a peak performance. As the indoor season winds down, both Edmond and Tavon know the importance of an indoor season on a successful outdoor campaign.

“The mental confidence to know they can compete with the best is huge,” Edmond said. “To go into the meet in Texas and realize, ‘hey, I’m pretty good, I can do this’ is a huge mental boost for them. And then just as important is the ramp up that indoor acts as for the outdoor season. With what we have been doing this season these guys can go right into the outdoor season, and not have to worry about their body and hit the ground running.”