Christoval's Vaughn Ready to Shake Wildcard Moniker at State
CHRISTOVAL, TX -- Christoval sophomore Allison Vaughn is heading into her second UIL state track meet a year wiser -- and better.
Last year, when she first stepped onto the hallowed track at Mike Myers Stadium in Austin, Vaughn was admittedly was a little nervous. “Everything was new,” as head coach Scott Richardson said of Vaughn’s freshman debut.
“Last year, my nerves were on a high,” Vaughn said, later noting she’s more relaxed heading into her second state track meet and third state appearance overall -- she qualified for state cross country in the fall.
Now, she’s ready to feed on the energy of the crowd under the bright lights.
“It’s just a great opportunity. It’s a great experience,” Vaughn said. “Last year, it was just great to get there. Now, I’m just more excited this year to compete at such a high level and against such a big crowd and great competition.”
It’s been a process for Vaughn to get back to state. This week before the meet, her workouts have hit a level higher than they were a year ago, but her experience has helped her get past that from a mental standpoint.
“This past week, we’ve been training tough. Coach has been giving me some good workouts,” Vaughn said. “It’s also, mentally, how much you’re willing to put in every time so you get a tough workout.”
That means Vaughn’s focus is noticeably on each race rather than a big crowd or what’s going on around her.
“She’s so much more relaxed,” Richardson said. “Last year, … you would see the nerves in her eyes, you would see the nerves in her actions before a race. You watch her and I know she’s not worried about all those other things. Her focus is now on the race and her performance and not so much what’s going on around it.”
Vaughn was able to get out of a tough Class 2A Region I meet as the wildcard, the best third place finisher in the state, but she qualified as the fifth fastest in the 800-meter run. Her time of 2 minutes, 24.5 seconds is more than three seconds faster than what she finished in fifth with at the state meet last year.
The wildcard moniker is just that, a name. All the sophomore needs is the chance.
“You put Allison on the track and I’m gonna bet on her,” Richardson praised. “She’s a fierce competitor. When you get a fierce competitor, … all she needs is a shot. So, I’ll always bet on her. I’m excited to see what she does Saturday night.”
Vaughn will lean on her confidence and familiarity with her competition to hopefully reach the podium Saturday night. Two of the top four runners came out of Region I.
“Going into regionals, I knew we had a really good region in the 800-meter,” Vaughn said. “I knew I had to do my best to win my spot in Austin and go compete against everyone. It’s an amazing feeling knowing it’s in my grasp and I could go out there and chase it.”
While the 800 is a middle distance race, Vaughn knows there will need to be a little bit of strategy and a lot of grit to come home with some hardware.
“In a way, there is some strategy. But at the end of the day, it’s who’s most gutsy out there and who’s willing to push themselves to the max,” Vaughn said.
Saturday, as well as the entire two-day event, will be a chance for these runners to be on one of the biggest stages in sports. The UIL has opted to have all running events in the evening, which is sure to draw a large crowd.
“I think it’s big for the runners simply because you put them on a stage,” Richardson said. “When you run them during the heat of the day, the excitement may be not there, you might not draw as many fans. But when you run them at night like that, you put them on a stage. When our athletes get a chance to be on a big stage like that, what an exciting time for the kids.”
Possibly seeing Vaughn on the podium would be special for a number of reasons to Richardson, but most importantly because he feels the sophomore encompasses what Christoval athletics is about.
“She represents all the things we want out of kids,” Richardson said. “To see that come to life is affirmation that all the things we do around here -- all that hard work, all those late nights, early mornings -- is really worth it.”
“The hard part’s over with,” she said. “Now, it’s time to go compete and see what these past two weeks of training have done.”
Vaughn is scheduled to run on May 11 at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.
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