Avery Chadwick

Fort Payne's Avery Chadwick improved her time in the 1,500 meter by 31 seconds at the Junior Olympics Mid South Regional last week.

Avery Chadwick knew she was going to have to put in the work and that’s what she did.

Chadwick, an eight year old distance runner from Fort Payne, won the state championship in the 1,500 meter at the Alabama state Junior Olympics meet back in June advancing her to the regional meet in July. If she was able to win there then she would advance to the national meet, which she knew would require more intense training to trim seconds off her time.

Last weekend her hard work paid off with her winning the 1,500 meter at the Olympics Mid South Regional meet and placed third in the 800 meter advancing her to the national meet later this month.

She ran between 10 to 15 miles a week and practiced with the Fort Payne cross country team to prepare and she had made great strides, but when she crossed the finish line at the regional meet she surprised herself.

“I thought I would be able to win, but I wasn’t prepared to take that much off my time from last time,” Chadwick said.

She finished with a time of 6:10.26, which is 31 seconds better than her last time she ran at the state meet. The time gives her a 17th national ranking.

Her father Kenny Chadwick, who is also the Fort Payne track and field coach, said he knew she had been improving but didn’t think she had improved that much.

“I knew that with the limited training she had been able to do before that she would run better this time,” Chadwick said. “I wasn’t sure, though, she would be able to run a 6:10. We had done some time trials and was just running average times, but you’re always going to run faster against other runners. She stepped it up and did great.”

Avery put in a lot of hours to improve that much, but she said she enjoyed the training process.

“I trained with the cross country team and worked really hard to make my times better,” Avery said. “It’s really fun; my dad is there with me and I trained with Olivia (Thurman) and she helped me a lot. The cross country team has a lot of boys and girls there running and it really helps me to run with them and I know Mrs. Marcie (Davis) will take care of me.”

Kenny said he’s always there to help her when she needs it, but it’s her desire to compete and get better that drives her to train like she does.

“That little girl amazes me,” Chadwick said. “She comes and gets me up at 6:30 in the morning to take her to practice with the cross country team and before she goes to bed every night she makes sure she has her alarm set. She does it all on her own and puts the work in.

“I’m a proud and blessed dad. I love to see her accomplish what she’s accomplished. It’s her sheer will and hard work that’s got her to this point.”

The U.S. Track and Field Junior Olympics national championships will be July 27 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Avery’s goal now is to continue to improve and maybe crack the top-10 times in the nation.

“If I win this one I’ll be a national champion and I think I can do it,” Avery said.

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