When: 5 p.m. today
Where: New Haven
Teams: Bellmont, Columbia City, DeKalb, East Noble, Huntington North, Leo, New Haven, Norwell
In the fifth grade, New Haven hurdler Alarra Vanlandingham started running track but quit because “it was too much running.” Fortunately, she picked it back up in sixth grade and has stuck it out since and, at 13, made another change for the better.
“I just didn't like doing the sprints so I started doing hurdles,” she said. “It's not just running, something to run over. I also like the relays. I like working with the other girls and just bonding with them is fun. It's really important because if you don't like the girls you're running with, you won't run well.”
This year, the junior transferred from Woodlan to New Haven to join her brother who was entering his freshman year. The New Haven team is also is bigger and the coaching staff is different, creating additional challenges for Vanlandingham.
“The workouts (coach Larry Stemmler) has us doing, he makes sure we do them hard,” she said. “(The transition) was kind of hard at first because I wasn't used to being around all these girls, and now I'm used to being around them.”
She's come into the team with some success and has become a leader by example.
“First thing she brought was her work ethic that really got our sprint, hurdle core to understand what work is and how it makes you better,” Stemmler said. “I just thanked her at the end of practice (Monday), she did a great workout, hit her goals. For being a junior coming into a new program to step up and be a leader is amazing. I think she's got some great talent that's going to surprise some people at the end.”
In today's Northeast Eight meet, Vanlandingham will race the two hurdles events and anchor legs of the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.
Vanlandingham won the 100 hurdles at last year's ACAC championship in 15.24 seconds, a meet record, and got second in the 300 hurdles. She advanced to the regional at Indiana Wesleyan last year where she finished sixth in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles.
“I think it was a pretty smooth transition (coming in from Woodlan),” Stemmler said. “Right away, she came in (and adjusted to the) coaching styles and our expectations we had for her; I knew the talent she had coming in, so we sat down and talked about some goals and planned the season for that. The goal is to make it to state.
“This year, we've seen a drop in times in her 100 hurdles. Form-wise, we've been working on little things that are going to pay off there. Definitely working on getting the lead leg down quicker, getting back on the ground faster than just floating over the hurdles.”
For the NE8 meet, Vanlandingham's talents will help the Bulldogs work their way up the standings after finishing eighth as a team last year.
“She's just an all-around athlete for us,” Stemmler said. “Last year, we were last in conference. This year, in several meets, we've been competitive. At the relays, we've been in the top four, in the past we've been in the bottom. She's competitive, and I think it's starting to feed off the other girls too.”
Vanlandingham is considering Tennessee State and Kentucky State for running track and going into nursing.