Harding prepares for state meet against college runners

Published 7:25 pm Thursday, April 25, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The average high school track athlete wouldn’t think of testing themselves against college runners, but Northside junior Andrew Harding is anything but average.

Harding, who finished second in the 1A state cross country meet in the fall, has competed in several national high school meets, to continue to progress toward his goal of a track and field state championship.
He raised the bar a little higher last weekend in Greensboro, where he entered the Aggie Invite on the campus of North Carolina A&T as an unaffiliated runner.

“I was planning on running some national or regional meets against other high schoolers, but this one happened to fit my family’s schedule,” Harding said. “They let unaffiliated high school runners in, so I decided to go for it.”
The fact that Harding and several teammates should be back on the same track in three weeks for the high school state championship is an added benefit to a weekend that turned out very well.

“Running at the state track before the state championship definitely helps because it’s good to be in that atmosphere beforehand,” Harding said. “Also knowing where to warm up and to best use my time helps too. The track is a much different material than the ones I usually run on, so racing on that gets me more prepared for state.”

Harding finished 10th in the 1500 meters and his time of 4.05.44 calculates to 4:22 for the 1600, which is the high school event.

“My goal was under 4:10 for the 1500 so my time was a huge personal record and I definitely accomplished more than what I expected,” he said. “I didn’t run my best on the last lap, so there is still lots of room to improve.”
Harding outran competitors from the host school, UNC-Greensboro, Campbell, Lenoir-Rhyne and Johnson C. Smith among others.

“Beating college runners was definitely a big confidence booster,” Harding said. “I went into this race with a sort of “prove it” mentality where I knew I had put in all the training, I just needed to prove I could put it all together in a race. Now that I’ve proved to myself I can run that fast, I have much more confidence going into the state meet with other guys that are going to be right there with me. I just need to put the pieces together on that day.”

The 1A state meet is May 18.