KINGMAN – Wyatt Pickering wasn’t expecting to win, but he was in a good position to do so.
The fifth-grader at Kingman Academy Intermediate School entered the 1,500-meter run as the No. 3 seed during the 2017 USA Track and Field State Championships May 20-21 at Mesa Community College.
Pickering quickly put the competition behind him, as the 11-year-old finished the race in 5:13.13 to take first place.
“I was excited,” he said. “I was a little surprised because I’ve never won before. But it felt good.”
The feeling of euphoria was even greater considering Pickering’s race to the finish against No. 1 seed Braden Lolli, who finished second at 5:14.09.
“At the end I had more air than I thought I would have,” Pickering said. “He started going a lot faster than I did. So by the time I caught up, he was already tired. So I just blew by him.”
The finish was a vast improvement from Pickering’s seed time of 5:31.54 and that accomplishment meant a lot.
“I dropped my time almost 20 seconds,” Pickering said. “It was cool, I didn’t think I could drop my time 20 seconds.”
Pickering also ran the 800 and took third at 2:30.75, improving his seed time of 2:33.48.
Pickering’s sister Savannah, 10, also competed in state championships and didn’t shy away from talking about what motivates her on the track.
“At the end sometimes I hear people breathing behind me,” she said. “I don’t want them to pass me, so I kind of just sprint toward the finish line and then they don’t pass me.”
That mentality paid off for the fourth-grader at Kingman Academy Intermediate, as she placed eighth in the 1,500 at 6:12.81. The finish was an accomplishment in itself.
“I was kind of surprised,” Savannah Pickering said. “I didn’t think I was going to get that high. Since it was my first time running it, I thought I was going to get tired during the end.”
Pickering earned a ribbon for her finish and she also took 12th in the 800 at 3:01.34.
The hard work and effort by the Pickerings has obviously paid off, thanks in part to their father Kelly, who coaches the duo. But as is the case in sports, the siblings see a different side of their father when it’s time to train.
“At home, he’s our dad,” Savannah Pickering said. “And then when we go to the track to start practicing, he’s our coach. It changes.”