At most meets, Brianna Radatz can never catch what she’s chasing.
The Bethlehem Academy senior that specializes in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles has yet to lose either event on the track this spring — and has also added titles in the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the triple jump — but Radatz is chasing times and figures that aren’t present on meet day.
Instead, she’s creating mythical competitors to continue pushing and preparing herself for the eventual uptick in competition that’s waiting at the subsection and section meet.
“She doesn’t get that competition at meets like she would regularly get, which ultimately any athlete that has that competition, it pushes them to be better,” BA coach Brent Zabel said. “Right now, it’s a lot of just mentally getting herself prepared to compete with an invisible time and someone in front of her that isn’t there.”
At last Thursday’s quadrangular in Faribault against Medford, NRHEG and Maple River, Radatz ran the 100 hurdles more than five seconds faster than the only other competitor in the field. In the 300 hurdles, she was three and a half seconds faster than her one competitor.
Wins in April are not the goal, however.
“We have really high hopes for her,” Zabel said. “She’s one that we feel will do really well at subsections and advance to sections. Our ultimate goal, because she’s missed state, is to get her to state. It’s one of her biggest goals to achieve this season.”
Based on Radatz’ progression, she was poised for a big step in the 2020 season. As a sophomore two seasons ago, Radatz broke the school record in both hurdles races, advanced to the Section 1A finals in the 100 and 300, and finished fourth in the 100 and sixth in the 300.
Her time of 15.77 seconds in the 100 hurdles was .25 seconds away from the standard that guarantees state qualification.
After a lost spring or training and development, the early part of the 2020 season has been about rebuilding and reestablishing that baseline. At Thursday’s meet, her times of 17.26 in the 100 hurdles and 51.15 in the 300 were her best of the season.
Those figures are also starting the climb the virtual leaderboard populated with other runners from the subsection and section.
“We’re talking to her and we’re showing her where she’s sitting right now,” Zabel said. “We’re using athletic.net to compare within our subsection and see, ‘OK, this is where you’re standing right now.’”
That scope might be expanding as well. At Thursday’s quadrangular, Radatz won the triple jump with a personal-best distance of 33 feet, 11 inches — more than four feet beyond the second-place finisher.
“I have been really impressed with her improvement and her distances,” Zabel said. “She has been jumping lately in her triple jump, and may be something we consider looking forward.”
As the Cardinals start preparing for the subsection meet May 1 in Pine Island and the Section 1A meet June 8 and June 10 at Winona State University, Zabel’s meet program might start changing as Zabel works on building Radatz’ endurance and keeping her fresh.
“I do want to give her a little break,” Zabel said. “I wanted to give her a break (Thursday), but then she wanted (to race) because it was a home meet and she wants to do the events she’s comfortable in and strongest in during these home meets.”