COPPERAS COVE — Cameron Woodberry’s weekend to-do list is daunting.
The Copperas Cove senior intends to extend his season, cement his high school legacy and secure his future, and he expects to accomplish it all in 4 minutes, 20 seconds.
Since the thought of running the 1,600-meter run in 4:20 or less originally entered Woodberry’s mind last season, the Bulldawgs distance runner has focused on reaching the milestone, and this weekend’s Region I-5A track and field meet at Lubbock is the ideal setting to run the best race of his life.
Not only would such a time almost guarantee he advances to the upcoming state meet at Austin, but it would simultaneously break the school record and command the attention of coaches at host campus Texas Tech — a university Woodberry is interested in attending.
“The coach is giving me consideration,” said Woodberry, who will also compete in the 3,200, “and if I run that 4:20, it will seal the deal with them.”
But he also plans to use the track meet, which could be his last if he does not finish in the top two of his events, to make the most of his potential.
“I’m trying to do a lot of things,” Woodberry said. “(Most important,) I’m trying to live up to the expectations I’ve set for myself and the expectations I know people have for me.”
Copperas Cove head coach Keith Stifflemire has no doubt Woodberry, who was sidelined with a bout of pneumonia for much of the cross-country season during the fall, is completely prepared to attempt the lofty feat.
“He is self-motivated, and he wants to win and continue to improve,” Stifflemire said. “Because of that, he puts in the extra time. … I saw him yesterday running down Highway 116 and running hills. He just puts the miles in, and because of his dedication and hard work, it has allowed him to really improve this year.”
Woodberry’s love for running began to blossom as a 6-year-old, but he fully embraced distance running as a freshman, dedicating himself completely to the sport.
Unfortunately, sometimes his passion for running became detrimental.
As a junior, Woodberry sprained both of his Achilles tendons, but attempted to fight through the pain instead of taking time off. The injury worsened, but Woodberry produced a strong performance at the district meet to reach regionals in the 3,200. His first trip to the regional meet ended with bittersweet emotions, however, after finishing fifth with a 9:49.01.
“I was shocked that I let (my injury) get that far, but I was pretty amazed because with most people, that injury might have knocked them out,” Woodberry said. “The pain was really, really bad at some points.”
With injury prevention taking a high priority, Woodberry focused on returning to regionals and achieving his goal of running a 4:20.
On March 28, at the Charlie Rouse Relays in Leander, while running the anchor leg of the distance medley, Woodberry flirted with the benchmark, tying the school’s 1,600 record of 4:24 set by Derwin Graham in 2010. The success continued at the District 8-5A meet, where Woodberry won gold in the 1,600 (4:28.57) and 3,200 (9:45.13) before he repeated the feat at the area meet with times of 4:26.05 in the 1,600 and 9:45.00 in 3,200.
Woodberry, who runs approximately 13 miles per day five days a week, is not content with his achievements, though.
“When it feels like you have nothing left to lose, you can lose it all,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay grounded and stay focused for this last meet because there is still one thing I want to accomplish this season — I want to run a 4:20 mile.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org