Ashley Henderson is one of the fastest woman over 100 meters this year according to the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body’s performance list edging out athletes from Jamaica and the European pro circuit racing to a time of 10.98 seconds.
The young athlete broke the school record and the 11 second barrier this year at the Desert Heat Classic in Tucson in with just a hint of tailwind.
That erased the 10.99 that USC freshman Twanisha Terry which was ran a week earlier as the fastest time on the planet this year.
SDSU track coach Shelia Burrell, a 2000 and 2004 Olympian in the heptathlon said “We definitely were hoping, expecting, planning for that. “She’s running fast at the right time, but I don’t think we’ve quite peaked yet. We haven’t hit the top end of what we think she can do this season.”
Henderson who is a 200m specialist was only entering her third outdoor 100m all season.
On April 6, she ran 11.12 at the SDSU with a tailwind over the allowed limit and a few weeks late she lowered her time to 11.06, but It was only enough for second place behind Terry at the Mt. Sac Relays in Torrance.
Despite finished second in the 100, she went on to win the 200 meters.
With her strength lying in the closing speed, her coaches have been worked on improving her start, especially the drive phase over the first 30 meters to ensure maximum performance.
The young athlete improved on her previous personal best of times over the years with 11.84 which was set in high school in St. Louis, to 11.64 as a college freshman, to 11.21 as sophomore to erasing the school record in 2017 with a time of 11.01.
Now she has become part of the sub-11 club with 10.98.
According to her coach, “she’s natural talented for sure” Burrell said. “What has really changed is she started to believe in herself and how good she can be in track. She realized, ‘Wow, I’m pretty good at this and I like to win.’ ”
The sub-11 barrier in women’s sprinting usually represents a line between fast and world class athletes and though many expect the time to be beating later in the year, the world has taken notice of this young prodigy.
Only 13 women ran faster than 10.98 in 2017.
Henderson will next take the track at the Mountain West Championships from May 912 outside Fresno followed by the NCCA preliminaries In Sacramento with the NCAA championships slated for June 6-9 in Eugene, Oregon.
Having missed out on the title in the 100m by one hundredth of a second, Henderson will be hoping to make it to both the 100 and 200 meter finals. In the 2017 edition she sixth in the 100m final and failed to qualify for the 200m final.
With the athlete targeting faster times in the future, her coach believes she must stay dedicated to achieve such success. “We’ve got to stay focused and relaxed, because there are other girls out there who can run fast, too. But that’s the one thing so great about Ashley. She knows that. She’s always saying: ‘You can never take anyone for granted’ said Burrell.