As an eighth-grader, Amaris Tyynismaa of Montgomery Catholic won the girls 800 meter, mile and two-mile at the AHSAA 4A state track and field meet, breaking state meet records in each event. She has run a 4:59 mile this year, and is ranked a top high school female distance runner in the nation. She also was named the Montgomery Advertiser’s female All-Metro Cross Country runner in the fall.
Before the 14-year-old starts her freshman year at Catholic, she sits with her track coach, Ed Wright, to discuss her first track season with the school.
What stood out to you this season?
State. It was different than a lot of other meets. It was fun and enjoyable, and people were a lot closer. And I got to see other really fast girls. There was a (Division 7A) girl who ran a 2:15 (for the 800 meters), and I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I ran a 2:16. But they had like three girls next to each other, and they were like battling it out at the end.
Ed Wright: I wish we were in that race.
If you ran against them, do you think you would have run faster?
I think so. That would have been a great race.
What made this season a success?
I think confidence, believing, and training really hard. I think I was just more prepared.
Your coach says you worked a lot on speed this track season. Do you think that helped you accomplish what you did this season?
I think that helps me when I start, and when I finish in races. Because, I have the endurance, but I need to work on running hard … at the end.
What are your pre-meet rituals?
I guess you could say talking to my team. If I don’t talk to my team before I run, then I don’t think I’ll do very good.
What does that do for you?
It makes me happy.
What are your thoughts on your three wins at state?
I was excited. But I get scared, because people are always like, ‘Well, they’re fast when they’re younger. And they get slower.’ So I’ve also thought about that, because a couple of people mentioned that and I kind of wish they didn’t.
How hard is it to run out by yourself? What do you have to do mentally to stay where you need to be?
I don’t know. I just look around. I think about what I’m going to eat afterward. I think about my team. And I look around the track, and look at the coaches. You definitely have to be disciplined. When I was running the 800 in Vestavia (King of the Mountain Invitational), I was freaking out. And I wasn’t thinking about anything but winning the race. I can tell myself to do something, and I normally can do it. So I thought, ‘What you’re going to do is stay with everybody … and then pass (Hoover’s Ally Barnett) at the end.’ So that worked out. (Tyynismaa won with a time of 2:18.18; Barnett finished second in 2:18. 68.)
Who pushed you this year?
Kaitlin York of American Christian (in the 1,600). That’s how I got my 4:59 (at King of the Mountain Invitational). She finished in 5:08.
What do we look for you next year in track?
In the 800, I want to run a 2:10. I really want to train hard for the 800. I know that sounds crazy. I want to work really hard for that. Even though it isn’t my best event, I feel like if I get that down, then that would be really good. Because I’m good at the 3,200 and the mile, but in the 800, I guess I’m … moderate.
Discuss your thoughts on the upcoming cross country season and the transition you have to make mentally in your training.
I think that I need to get used to the heat. And I think I need to prepare to increase my mileage.
How does that compare to track?
In track, we’ll do four to five miles, but in cross country, you want to do more mileage, and that can be tough.
Do you have any goals for cross country season?
Yes. A 16:30 (Tyynismaa has run a 16:57). If I get under 16:50s or 40s, I’ll freak out. That’ll be crazy.
What is one thing about you that people would be surprised to know?
I like to smile when I run. And stay happy. Because if I’m not happy, I don’t run good.
In her coach’s words: All I have to do is keep her healthy. That’s all any coach has to do. She had started hurting after cross country and we had to back her off. Of course, we worked on speed in the track season. Every opportunity we had, we worked on speed. You can put her up against anybody racing anywhere, anytime, and she’s going to run, regardless of what her coach has done. It’s just her competitive spirit. That’s what makes a winner.
Tyynismaa: That’s so nice.
All-Metro Girls Track Team
ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: AMARIS TYYNISMAA, MONTGOMERY CATHOLIC
800 meters, 1st, 2:16.86, 4A state meet record
1,600, 1st, 5:01.38, 4A state meet record
3,200, 1st , 10:53.15, 4A state meet record
Rachael Yergensen, St. James, 4A
3,200, 2nd, 11:19.88
1,600, 3rd 5:20.03
800 meters, 6th, 2:28.27
Jaylen Bowen, BrewTech, 5A
High jump, 1st, 5 feet, 4 inches
Shea Henry, Trinity, 4A
Long jump, 2nd, 16 feet, 7.25 inches
400 meters, 3rd, 1:00.76
100 meter dash, 4th, 12.79
Laurel Buettner, Montgomery Academy, 3A
Long Jump, 3rd, 16 feet, 5.25 inches
200 meters, 8th, 27.03
Caroline Kirkham, Montgomery Academy, 3A
Javelin, 2nd, 120 feet, 10 inches; ranked No. 15 freshman javelin thrower in the nation
A.C. Sylvest, Montgomery Academy, 3A
Pole Vault, 4th, 8 feet, 9 inches; No. 4 eighth-grade vaulter in the state
With a 93-foot, 7-inch throw, is the No. 9 eighth-grade javelin thrower in the nation
Javonda Peagler, Prattville, 7A
300 meter hurdles, 2nd, 43.97
100 meters, 4th, 12.21
Erica Toliver, Lamp, 4A
100 meters, 2nd, 12.54
200 meters, 3rd, 26.51
Tamrah Tucker, Catholic, 4A
100 meters, 3rd, 12.73
200 meters, 4th, 27.06
The All Metro team was selected based on performances at the AHSAA state meet. Relay teams were not considered.
Montgomery Academy: Sarah Payne, Nia Tuck; Prattville Christian: Ansley Story; St. James: Sailor Miles; Lamp: Victoria Tillman, Ebony Tolliver.
— Team compiled by Kym Klass in consultation with area coaches. The All-Metro area covers Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes and Montgomery counties.