Hendricks’ senior year is finally bringing deserved results

BY AMY TIFFANY | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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In the middle of her sophomore year, now-senior captain Tiffany Hendricks began training for the 400-meter hurdles — arguably one of the most difficult races in outdoor track and field season.

The race consists of 10 hurdles placed throughout one lap, or 400 meters. Hendricks said one of the most challenging aspects of the race is the last 100 meters. At the mark, two hurdles stand between the athlete and the finish line, and it’s the first time, Hendricks said, she looks to see where the competition is.

“That point in the race is where I actually start paying the most attention to the people around me,” she said. “You just have to move your arms a lot more — more so because it correlates with how your legs move, and just sprint to the end really with everything you have left.”

Another challenging facet can occur anytime throughout the event. Hendricks said some sprinters, such as sophomore Hannah Simonson, don’t have a dominant or nondominant hurdle leg, but Hendricks does. Left-legged, she has used repetition in practice to overcome the obstacle of hurdling with her right foot as the lead leg.

“You’re definitely going to be a step ahead of other competitors if you can compete with both legs,” assistant coach Clive Roberts said.

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The race is largely about technicalities and rhythm. Head coach Layne Anderson said it is a technical race in terms of the stride patterns. Roberts, who coaches Hendricks in the event, also called it a rhythm race. Being able to use both legs is necessary because the athlete can’t slow down and fix her footsteps because she has to use a specific lead leg.

Endurance is also an important factor. In the past, Hendricks said her endurance held her back in competition. But because of her fall conditioning this year, such as running 600s uphill, she said, it has not been an issue.

Hendricks accomplished her goal of breaking the one-minute barrier on April 9 at the Sun Devil Classic in Tempe, Ariz., running the race in 59.65.

“The focus of training and the thing I think will help me drop my time this weekend [at Auburn] is getting out of the blocks and the first hurdle so that I can set myself up for the rest of the race,” Hendricks said. “The first hurdle is really important and just being comfortable going over with my right leg, I feel like I should be able to drop my time if I execute those two things.”

Joining the team as a walk-on freshman, Hendricks was a multi-event athlete. She tried a number over the course of her four years, including jumping, hurdles, the 400, and 600. This year, though, is the first time all of her hard work has come together. She was a part of the 4x4 relay team that took second in Big Tens and is now shooting for first place in the outdoor Big Ten championships.

“This indoor season, she finally pushed through some barriers and got to a level where she was able to score [at the Big Ten championships],” Anderson said. “Something she wanted to do for a couple years.”

One thing has been able to get her through to the milestone at Arizona State, and Roberts said he expects her, and all of his athletes, to keep progressing.

“I think she just worked extremely hard and chipped away with it,” Anderson said.

Not only is she working hard in the 400-meter hurdles, Hendricks has also run the 400-meter race, the 4x4 relay, and the 4x100 relay this outdoor season. There isn’t much more she could do.

“Looking back on it,” Anderson said, “she couldn’t have worked any harder.”

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