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Andrea Bryson created a to-do list before the start of the track season.
Standing on the top step of the medals stand during the state Division I girls 100-meter awards ceremony was high on the list - No. 1, actually.
“That's what I've wanted,” said Bryson, a Central Catholic junior. “If I win state I'll be very happy.”
Central's top sprinter is among the Division I girls 100-meter state qualifiers who will compete in the state track and field championships today and tomorrow at Welcome Stadium in Dayton. It's the second straight year for Bryson in that group.
A year ago Bryson appreciated just being a part of the scene. Simply making it to state as a sophomore was her goal, and she didn't place.
But the situation is different this time. Bryson's to-do list has been expanded. Expectations have been raised.
And if expectations hadn't been heightened before last weekend, when Bryson ran in the regional at Amherst Steele High, they certainly are now. Bryson checked off one of the tasks on her list when she won the 100, a victory that required outrunning Elyria's Tianna Madison, who is the defending 100 and 200 state champion.
Bryson became the first sprinter in two seasons to beat Madison, and Bryson admitted that she'd never even come close to beating the state champion in previous encounters.
“It meant a lot, but you don't really know what it means to win until the state meet,” said Bryson, who posted a regional time of 12.35 seconds in rainy, cold weather.
Central Catholic coach Dave Carpenter wasn't surprised by Bryson's showing, which included running the anchor leg on the state-qualifying 800 relay team that includes Amanda Dowdy, Lori Johnson and Joan Brooks. Carpenter knew Bryson could contend with the state's top runners. After all, she already had first-place finishes at the City League and district meets - also checked off her to-do list.
“She was up to the challenge,” Carpenter said. “She's gotten better every year.”
Not only is Bryson physically stronger, her mental toughness is at an all-time high, Carpenter said. Her performance at the regional may have been indicative of her mental toughness just as much as her physical strength, running the 100 final in 50-degree temperatures and against a strong headwind.
“I knew it was all about who was prepared and who came ready to run,” she said. “It was cold and we ran right into a headwind and it felt like running against a brick wall.”
The preparation for this stage of the season actually began in the winter, when the Irish started training the first day back from Christmas break. They ran indoors before the weather improved.
Running more 400 meters during practice than in previous years has proven beneficial.
“I don't really like [the 400], but it makes me stronger for the 100 and 200.”
The competition is strong, too.
“Everybody that goes down there wants to win,” Bryson said. “No one is going to give anything away after putting in all that hard work.”