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New feat for fleet feet

Citizen Staff Writer



As Rincon/University High School sprinter Tamara Pridgett performed high leap calisthenics at the starting blocks Wednesday, a race official remarked, “She’ll be cooling off before the rest have finished.”

A slight exaggeration, of course, as she was warming up for the 100-meter dash, but you get the point.

As anticipated, Pridgett put a few long meters between herself and the rest of the pack, winning the 100 for the Rangers in 12.53 seconds in a windblown triangular track and field meet at Tucson High.

Pridgett won four events Wednesday, helping Rincon to a second-place finish Wednesday with 56 points. Canyon del Oro’s 86 points won the meet and host Tucson High had 43

It was Pridgett’s third of those four victories which resulted in jaws dropping collectively all over the stadium.

Pridgett, a junior who has been one of Arizona’s best scholastic sprinters since her freshman season, delicately toed the mark for the 800. She comfortably kept pace in the middle-distance race for the first 400 meters, cruising in third place, about 20 meters off the lead at the midway point.

In the next 400 meters, Pridgett turned it on, winning the event she has never run before by 30 meters in 2:32.2. Alyssa Mort of Rincon finished second in 2:36.1.

“It was scary,” she said of trying the unfamiliar race. “It was a training thing. I expected to be dead, but I feel fine. Coach (sprint coach Lucius) Miller told me, ‘Relax. You’ll do fine.’ ”

Rival Canyon del Oro assistant coach Latanya Sheffield remarked, “Tamara has opened a whole new life in track. It’s a rare high school athlete who can do the sprints and a distance race. She was brave to do it.”

The scary thing about Pridgett is she hasn’t realized her own talent, Miller said, who thought Pridgett running the 800 was a no-brainer.

“I thought she’d be faster in the 800,” he said. “She has shown (in practice) she has the endurance to do it. It was strictly a training thing and she’s tough. She wants to challenge herself.”

When pushed, Pridgett responds and she believes losing to older girls her first two years of high school helped her. She has affinity for pressure, scoring the winning goal in overtime of the 2008 Class 5A Division II state soccer final as a sophomore.

She attained elite state status as a sprinter last year with a career bests of 11.94 in the 100, 22.19 in the 200 and 58.34 in the 400. Wednesday, she ran the second leg of the 4×100 relay and anchored the 4×400 in a replay of the 800, coming from behind to win easily.

“I knew she had the ability a long time ago,” said Miller, who coached Pridgett on a club team before her high school days. “It was a matter of keeping her interested, progressing and healthy. It helps she is a humble kid and has great parents.”

Pridgett started running in third grade “for fun” but when her parents insisted she get into club running, she balked a little.

“I had to skip a meet this year and I really missed being out there,” she said. “I don’t know what I’d do without (competing). I’d go crazy.”

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