Mead’s Tavon Underwood smashes Colorado record in 4A boys 400-meter dash

LAKEWOOD – Mead senior Tavon Underwood’s record-smashing performance in the Class 4A 400-meter dash at the CHSAA state track and field meet Saturday was mesmerizing, a true testament to his lighting speed.

After falling short in the 100-meter dash final earlier Saturday morning, Underwood was positioned in the fifth lane with his head down, focusing on the task at hand. When the gun went off, Underwood was a blur. Three runners had the lead on Underwood for a few seconds before he ran past them. As the senior approached the finish line it was evident that he was on the verge of doing something greater than winning.

Underwood was showered with cheers after his first-place finish at Jeffco Stadium. But the cheers grew even louder when the public announcer shouted that his time of 45.36 broke the Colorado prep record that had stood since 2006.

“We all saw this coming,” said Underwood, who wasn’t far off from the national record of 45.19 set in 2012. “It was just a matter of whether or not I could execute. And I did.”

Underwood didn’t need a reminder of his accomplishment. Before the state championship, he kept track of all the Colorado and national records of each event he was competing in. While scrolling through the record books, he asked himself if he could make history.

Sure enough, he did.

“I don’t think anyone is going to go lower than this,” said Underwood, a Kansas State commit.

Drew White is in his first season as Mead’s coach, yet Underwood has given him enough memorable moments that it’s hard to keep straight. After the 400-meter race, Underwood blazed through the 200-meter dash in 20.93 seconds, shattering the 4A state record. On Friday, he won the 4A boys 800-meter run championship in 1:51.97 despite competing in that event for the second time in his track career.

“There’s an eye-popping moment every time (he) steps on the track,” White said. “It’s an awesome sight to see.”

The source of Underwood’s success has been his mental approach. White called Underwood an “incredibly stoic” person who prevents his emotions from getting the best of him. It’s hard to figure out what kind of mood Underwood is in because he maintains an even-keeled attitude in everything he does.

“It might not be the same for other people, but I think it’s important to stay calm and composed so you can execute what you’ve been practicing,” Underwood said.

White said Underwood is a role model for the Mavericks. He praised the senior’s humbleness, championship mindset and work ethic.

“Kids on the track team look up to him,” White said. “He’s made an impact on our team, especially on the younger kids (by) showing the success you can have when you work hard.”

After battling injuries as a junior, Underwood said having consistent training contributed to his big moment on Saturday in the 400-meter dash. When Underwood approached the second curve, he knew the race was his to lose.

“I had so much energy left in me that I wasn’t expecting to have,” Underwood said. “I doubted anyone else had that kind of energy, so I just went as fast as I could and ended it.”

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