HOBART | Six one-hundredths of a second, just 0.06.
That span, roughly the amount of time it takes our brains to send signals and release adrenaline when we experience a traumatic situation, was all that separated promising Hobart freshman Mindy Whidden from a regional berth last year.
Reminiscence from that short clip of time pushed the sophomore throughout the full year since then.
“It made me want to work harder so I could make it this time,” Whidden said. “I just kept running.”
She took no time off and instead ran and ran. She hit the city trails, the neighborhood streets and the team’s home course until her slightly flawed feet gave in to a pair of stress fractures, one in a metatarsal on each foot.
She ran with the stress fractures at the cross country regional and finished 18th to help the Brickies advance to semistate. She had to skip semistate because of the fractures, but rather than lie on the couch, she trained her upper body with weights and worked her legs on the elliptical machine.
Her workouts were fast and furious, and like the characters in the movie franchise of the same name, she lived her life a quarter of a mile at a time.
The 400-meter dash was always her favorite race, and losing has remained her least favorite thing. Tonight, she’ll continue to wear her corrective inserts at the Chesterton Regional, where she’ll run alongside the region’s best as they vie for a state berth.
“I just don’t like losing,” Whidden said. “Normally, I’m really nervous before a race until I start. I’m not the fastest pure sprinter, so I like how it’s between and I can combine my speed and endurance.”
Whidden is the No. 1 seed entering the race, although the field includes defending champion Chayil Henderson of Bowman Academy.
“(Mindy) is still figuring out what she is capable of,” Hobart coach Mike Black said. “She’s one of the hardest workers day in and day out.
You can see she wants to get better every day.”
A slight quadriceps pull during the 100-meter prelims at the Northwest Crossroads Conference meet raised concern, and Black opted to hold her out of all of her remaining races that night. Last Tuesday at the Lowell Sectional, Whidden won the 400 by 0.77 seconds, placing ahead of six Duneland Athletic Conference competitors.
“I saw a girl ahead of me and just didn’t want to lose,” Whidden said.
The Female Athlete of the Meet at the Hobart Little 5 earlier this spring, Whidden began running up and down Portage’s Willowcreek Road with the Portage Christian cross country team. She started public school in eighth grade at Hobart Middle School.
The daughter of Mitch Whidden, the senior pastor at Hobart’s Barrington Ridge Baptist Church, Whidden also sings and plays piano in a pair of church ensembles.
She is dedicated in school as well, but she is tireless in track practice. Extra weights, extra reps and extra time are part of her routine.
“She knows if she takes time off someone else is working hard out there,” Black said. “She never slows down, and she tries to take care of the things champions need to take care of.”