Hillcrest High School track coach Kirk Merhish gets paid the big bucks for a reason. He must decide what to do with Sydney Bricker at the Class 4A state track meet next weekend at BYU.
Here is Merhish's dilemma: Bricker has qualified to participate in the medley, 400 and 1,600 relays, but she also qualified in the 100 hurdles, 100, 200 and 400.
It's a pleasant problem to have.
"We're trying to qualify her in as many events as we can," Merhish said. "We will put her in the events that she has the best chance of winning a state championship in."
There is one event that Merhish already penciled her in for, and that's the 400. Bricker turned in one of the top times in 4A (56.5 seconds) at the Davis Invitational two weeks ago, besting her previous PR of 58.5. She figures to challenge Timpview's Lauren Baxter, the defending state champion, who has the top time of the year at 54.99.
"I trained with her in the winter, and I know she's a great person," Bricker said. "She will be tough to beat. I'm just hoping to improve my time. If I can do that, I will be happy."
Bricker split her time between soccer and track for most of her high-school career, but it became clear which sport would be her future when she signed with Utah Valley University before the track season.
"She comes from a program that builds good college runners," UVU track coach Scott Houle said. "She's tall and strong, and once she gets on the track, she is intense and doesn't shy away from the competition. I think she can come in and run some great times right away and work her way up to the NCAA regionals."
One of the most notable differences for Bricker has been a change in her form.
"I worked with my coach in the winter and focused on improving my form," she said. "I was running with soccer arms. I focused on picking up my knees and my arms, and that's helped me get better."
The results have surfaced in not just the 400 but in the number of events she's qualified for. Now there is just one thing left to do.
"There's no greater feeling [than] when you cross the finish line and you look up and see that you set a PR," Bricker said. "No matter how much pain you're in, it makes it all worth it."