Woodlyn Smith has some tough decisions to make.
As of Wednesday, the Coconino High junior has posted automatic qualifying times for the Division III state track and field meet in four events. She also has two provisional times in the long-distance events.
She doesn't want to stop there, either. Of the eight total individual track events, the 200-meter is the only race she doesn't have a automatic or provisional time in yet. Smith would like to check that one off the list, too.
For her, it's "maybe a wild goal" to try to qualify in as many events as possible, but she hopes the high marks in so many events will attract future scholarship opportunities in addition to helping her team out in a few weeks.
By May, Smith will have to make a decision for the state meet in Mesa.
With athletes only allowed to compete in four total events at the big meet, Smith said she might be torn between picking events she knows will get her team the most points and the races she enjoys competing in the most.
She's a standout sprinter in the division, where she currently owns the fastest time in the 800m at 2:19.74, an automatic qualifying result. The fourth-fastest D-III time in the 400m, a 1:00.39, also currently belongs to Smith.
Smith's also a seasoned hurdler, having competed in the 100m and 300m hurdles at last season's state meet. Her time of 46.81 in the 300m is the second-fastest in D-III, and her 16.47 in the 100m is the seventh-best.
“We know that she can do anything we give her out here, and most of the time we modify workouts for kids, so for hers it’s always more," said Panthers track and field coach Susan Quick. "We’ve actually seen in meets that the more events she’s in, the better she performs, so she really can thrive on hard work.”
Four events per meet is the norm for Smith, who has first-place finishes in the 800m, 100m hurdles and 300m hurdles. Despite competing in a variety of events, exhaustion isn't setting in.
“I think I’ve been consistent at all my meets," Smith said. "I don’t feel burned-out, and my coaches are good about balancing out my workouts and recovery, and I feel like my body is getting stronger.”
A typical week starts with long-distance work. Then it's on to sprints and hurdles. Her coaches monitor Smith's work, but basically take a hands-off approach.
“We don’t have to worry about her out here at practice, she comes in and is ready to do her workout and ready to make it happen for herself," said Panthers track and field coach Erin Motes.
In fact, coaching her sometimes means telling Smith to take the foot off the pedal.
“I have been coaching her in sprints and hurdles for three years, and most of the time I have to ask her to stop, be done and go home because she will just keep on going," Quick said.
Jordan Brockman, Smith's teammate, clocked the fastest time in the 100m hurdles for the Panthers at 16.39 so far this season. Last year at the state meet, Smith ran a 17.73 in the event for eighth place.
Although she enjoys the 100m hurdles, she knows it's not her best event. The fastest times in all the other track events on the girls side, however, belong to Smith.
She said she might have to focus on what she can do at the state meet to provide the most points for her team, even if it means not participating in an event she loves, such as the 100m hurdles.
Smith brings more than strong numbers to the team, however.
“She provides a lot of our points for one, but she’s a really positive example to those who are around on the team," Motes said. "Even from her freshman year, she’s had that tenacity to work hard.”
Coconino, which has seen a gradual spike in more athletes coming out for track and field each new season, hopes to take more than 40 athletes to the state meet, around the same amount that made it last season, according to Motes.
On Coconino's girls side, Kaelynn Ashley and Hope Saxton have ran provisional times in the 1600m, with Saxton also having a provisional time in the 3200m along with Lilia Tassinari. Brockman has ran a 300m hurdle time of 50.33, good for a provisional. The 4x800 relay team also has posted a provisional time.
Moreover, Coconino's Charity Saganey has the second-farthest throw in D-III in the shot put at 34-9.25, and teammate Kortnee Begaye's 106-7 in the discuss is currently the third-best throw in the division. Maya Tijerin also has an automatic qualifying mark in the shot put at 33-4.5.
For Smith, who also plays soccer for the Panthers, one of the easiest decisions she has had to make is coming out for track another year and being a part of a growing program.
“I just feel like I hopped in here at the right moment, to see the growth and the incredible athletes alongside me and the incredible coaches. It’s encouraged me to try my hardest and help the program,” Smith said.