Tyler Doty doesn’t shy away from either hurdling event at track and field meets, though the Whiteland Community High School senior does have a preference.
The longer the run, the better.
“I will say I’m better at the 300 (intermediate) hurdles. I’m more of a mid-distance sprinter anyway, so that helps. There are some days when we work strictly on the 110s and days we work just on the 300s,” Doty said.
Except from pole vault, no event requires more raw courage than the hurdles. Hurdling requires equal measures of speed, strength, timing and fearlessness, coaches and athletes said.
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Races for girl track athletes are either 100 to 300 meters with hurdle heights ranging from 30 inches (300 lows) to 33 inches (100 highs). Boys’ 110-meter hurdles incorporate 39-inch hurdles compared to 36-inch hurdles for the 300 intermediate.
Doty, a fifth-place finisher in the 300s at last season’s boys sectional who also competed in the 110 highs, also high jumps and runs the third leg of the Warriors’ 4×400-meter relay team.
He has to balance how much of his training time can be set aside for hurdling, which requires an explosiveness from the starter’s block in order to make it over 10 hurdles in the 110 highs or eight hurdles in the 300 intermediate.
For Greenwood senior Tori Harper, the final 100 meters of the 300-meter low hurdles is the most taxing.
“As soon as you reach the last breakaway, once you reach that last 100 break, you’re like, ‘OK, I’ve got to keep pushing,’ ” she said. “It doesn’t even look like you’re hurdling at the end.”
Last season she placed third in the girls 100 highs at sectional and prefers that event over the 300 low hurdles.
“I like the speed of it. The adrenaline just kind of starts pumping, and it’s exhilarating,” Harper said. “I think everybody dreads having to run (300s), but at the same time they love it.
“Nobody likes track. It’s a passion and love you have to have for it.”
Each hurdling event during a high school track and field meet presents a unique challenge.
High-hurdle races — 100 meters for girls, 110 for boys – and the 300-meter event differ in distance, hurdle height and strategy.
“Over the years I know kids tend to favor one over the other, and I would say it’s pretty even,” said Franklin Community High School boys coach Mike Hall, who’s in his 31st season with Grizzly Cubs. “With hurdling, it takes a special kind of kid to do it.”
The 300s are categorized more as an endurance event.
Center Grove boys coach Eric Moore referred to the 300s as “the toughest thing there is,” comparing the race to getting punched in the stomach eight times — once per hurdle.
In the 300, girls and boys races feature a 45-meter approach to the first hurdle, with the hurdles then separated by 35 meters.
High school hurdling in Indiana has undergone dramatic change through the years to better accommodate change in track surfaces (dirt to cinder to today’s all-weather) and the faster, stronger athlete of today.
Girls hurdling events used to include the 80-yard hurdles until 1979 and the 100-meter lows through 1998. Boys hurdling has undergone numerous changes since 1904.
Greenwood girls and boys track coach Blaine Williams said training for the 300 hurdles includes a lot of endurance training. The regimen includes 400-meter runs, 350-meter runs and 300-meter runs where only three or four of the hurdles are in a runner’s lane instead of all eight.
“The 300 hurdles is three times as long, so it’s a lot different,” Williams said. “The 300 hurdle kids can get by on just speed because the hurdle is lower. It still takes technical knowledge to get over the hurdle, but not like it does in the (high hurdle) race.”
“If you can run a 400 pretty fast you’ll make a 300 hurdler because all you’ve got to be able to do is get over the hurdle, which for a lot of those kids isn’t that hard.”
UP AND OVER
100-meter high hurdles (10 hurdles)
Height: 33 inches
300-meter low hurdles (8 hurdles)
Height: 30 inches
110-meter high hurdles (10 hurdles)
Height: 39 inches
300-meter low hurdles (8 hurdles)
Height: 36 inches