A Sectional Diary: Kenli Nettles Shines at Central A&M

Wet and windy was the name of the game at the Class 1A girls sectionals held in Assumption. I was checking the forecast frequently throughout the day, just hoping for little to no rain, but that was not the case. The wind and rain did not stop me from becoming a sectional champion in all of my events and running a new personal best.

As soon as I hopped off of the bus, I headed straight for the track to get a warmup in before the downpour started. It was pretty chilly so getting completely warm took a little bit longer than normal. After warming up, I went to high jump to get my mark and some run-throughs in. Starting height was 4'6", but I passed until 5'0". I cleared 5'0", 5'2", and 5'4" on my first attempts, and 5'6" on my second attempt. I bumped the bar up to 5'7" and took my three attempts, but missed on all due to minor execution errors. The rain and wind did not play a huge factor in my jumps. The slight drizzle was actually sort of relaxing. I had been struggling a lot with high jump this past season, and I was finally able to get over my slump which boosted my confidence levels a lot.

With one event complete, I had some time to sit down, stretch a bit, and massage my calves as they were a little tight from the days prior to sectionals. I warmed up for my 100-meter hurdles a little longer than normal to get the blood flowing and become as warm as possible before having to take off all my sweats to race. Luckily, it was not raining and I had a tailwind during the race. Once the race started, I felt very strong. I got out of my blocks well and executed exactly like I needed to. I ran a 14.56, just .03 seconds off my personal best, and finished with another victory under my belt.

After the 100 meter hurdles, I had a break of around 45 minutes. During my break, I rolled out and had a light snack since I had not eaten much throughout the day due to getting my braces tightened. I ate my snack and began my warmup. Around the start of the 400-meter dash, there was a small amount of mist, but it had stopped by the beginning of the 300-meter hurdles. I felt slow out of my block but picked up speed by the second hurdle. I held a consistent 15 steps between each hurdle up until the 6th hurdle when I stuttered and took 17. However, the rest of the race was clean, and I finished in first place with a time of 44.08, a new personal best by over a second. My old personal best set last year at sectionals was a 45.46. I was in complete awe at the end of the race. My goal this year in the 300-meter hurdles was to run sub 45-seconds. I accomplished my goal, and I am going into state prelims seeded first.

Last but not least, the 200-meter dash. A new event for me this year, I ran the 200 to get times for college coaches and to get a mark for my newest event this summer: the heptathlon. Believe it or not, I had never run a competitive 200 until the middle of my junior season. Being a rookie in the 200 did not stop me at all. I came into sectionals with the fastest seed time of 25.58 and finished my night by running a 25.98. I am not disappointed with the run at all. I had run a great race, won the event and qualified for state in not-so-great conditions. Thankfully by the time, the 200m started the rain/mist was over for the night.

All in all, the meet was ran very smoothly. I had a great experience for my third sectionals, despite the conditions. Walking away with four gold medals, and running/jumping state-leading times and heights give me a positive outlook on next weekend. I ran against one of my biggest competitors, DaeLin Switzer (Sr., Decatur St. Teresa), in all four events, and I cannot wait to see her on the big blue oval.