PINE BLUFFS — Wyatt Berg pulled away.
The next closest guy to him the 400-meter dash at the Pine Bluffs Invitational had no chance of catching up. The Burns standout finished in 53.57 seconds, almost a full second faster than Banner County’s Michael McKown (54.55).
The win was nice but it wasn’t what Berg was aiming for.
“I want to just keep shaving off seconds as we get closer to state because that’s where you want to peak,” he said.
“My goal is to get the 53.35(-second) prequalifying mark. It’s a reachable goal and I just to keep striving for that.”
Berg’s time was two-tenths of a second off the mark needed to prequalify for the Class 2A state track meet. It’s the second time he’s finished just that short of meeting the mark.
The shortfall doesn’t bother Burns coach Cole Manlove.
In a season filled with snow that’s forced numerous postponements and cancellations, Berg is making the most of what little opportunity he has to compete. That’s all Manlove is asking for.
“He’s been flirting with the prequal for the 400, he’s only missed it by two hundredths of a second in the two times he’s run it,” Manlove said.
“He’s a little discourage but I’m not discouraged because with the kind of season that we’ve had. I think he’s where he should be if we were in a regular season.”
The truth is this snow-filled season might not have been the worst thing at all. While he hasn’t gotten to practice, Berg has been building up his strength and size. Generally those are two things that might slow a runner down.
Instead of becoming more of a middle-distance runner, he’s inching towards a sprint-quality times.
“He’s actually putting up some very competitive times in the 200(-meter dash). He and I have been talking about what would be the better event for him at regionals,” Manlove said, calling the situation a “quandry.”
“That’s not a conversation a coach has often with that kindof runner. You’re either that sprinter or you’re that mid-distance guy. Wyatt is kind of in a little bit of a transition phase because he’s in a perfect spot right where he’s getting strong and he’s not getting slower as a result of it, he’s actually getting quicker.”
Where he lands for the Southeast Wyoming Athletic Conference meet this weekend, regionals and state has yet to be seen. Manlove plans to have that discussion soon.
For Berg, Tuesday’s outing was simply a chance to get out and run, something that hasn’t been all that easy as of late.
“It boosted confidence for myself starting out the day good. I could definitely see it on other peoples faces also,” he said.
“The weather is a setback. We’re going to keep getting better, keep working and it’s not going to hold us back come state time.”