Freshmen sprints to state title
Grace Tadajweski l Editor-In-Chief
For many, a state title is a culminating achievement after years of hard work on the high school track. For freshman Kaddel Howard, that box is already checked off before heading into her first high school outdoor season.
On Saturday, Feb. 25, Howard competed at the Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association Indoor State Championships in the 400-meter and 200-meter. Howard hailed a first- place finish in the 400 followed by a second-place finish in the 200.
Humbly reflecting on her win, Howard felt good about the outcome of the 400. She finished with a time of 55.57 seconds, nearly one second in front of the senior second place finisher who ran 56.47 seconds.
“I didn’t even know that I was 55; I thought I was 56,” said Howard. “I thought the other girl had won, so when they said it out loud, I was shocked.”
In the 200, Howard ran 24.59 seconds, lending her a silver medal. The event winner, junior Avery Lewis, won both the 200 and 60-meter dash.
Howard’s recent 400 time is her new personal best for indoor track and field. However, Howard went into the winter season with no specific goals in mind.
“I was just trying to be consistent with it and put in hard work,” said Howard.
After pursuing cross country in the fall, Howard trained with sprint coaches Rob Bare and Matt Garman this winter. She attributes her time improvements to her 50-meter and 200 sprint training with the winter track team.
While this year is Howard’s first year on a school track and field team, Howard is no stranger to the sport. She started running for High Level Track Club, based out of Philadelphia, when she was seven years old.
“It (why I started running) was actually when I was younger,” said Howard. “I was running around with my friends and stuff, and a neighbor that had seen me had a son that was in track. She told me that I should join.”
This past summer, Howard competed at the AAU Track and Field Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina. She competed in the 100-meter, 200, and 400, which she ultimately placed third in with a time of 55.64 seconds.
Howard did not run for the middle school team, but she decided to run for the high school team this year because of the accompanying opportunities. After laying a strong foundation for the spring, Howard is hoping to take advantage of the outdoor track.
“(I am looking forward to) decreasing my times,” said Howard.
Howard hopes to run a 54 second 400 and a low 24 second 200.
“(I want to work on) my form,” said Howard. “Just having my knees up because I always back kick when I run.”
Brandon Risser coaches the middle distance and distance track athletes. Risser is not only excited about seeing Howard’s contributions to the team on relays but also her development as an individual.
“This is my 19th year coaching at Cedar Crest, and Kaddel might be the most talented student athlete to come through our program,” said Risser. “She is incredibly humble, and I’m excited to see her continue to grow as a competitor.”