This past Saturday, Cherry broke the previous national record of 33.19 held by William Reed (Central, Philadelphia, PA) from 1986 with his incredible performance of 33.05 on Saturday at the 2013 VHSL Group AAA State Indoor Track & Field Championships. The 300 meter dash national record like most sprint events indoors are usually set on a fast 200 meter banked track, but Cherry's performance holds even greater reverence as a record now by establishing the new all-time national best in the 300 on a flat 200 meter track surface at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, VA. The Florida State University recruit Cherry was not fresh either as roughly an hour prior, Cherry successfully repeated as the 500 meter state champion with his second fastest performance in the event at 1:03.13, which is just off his US #4 all-time performance two weeks ago at his district meet of 1:02.61. To conclude his historic state meet, Cherry was able to chase down virtually all of the anchor legs in the fast section of the 4x400 meter relay with a 46.5 second split to allow the Oscar Smith boys to win the state title in the relay event with a US top 10 time of 3:22.50. MileStat.com interviewed Cherry as he reflects on his national record race and stellar state meet triple, while also turning his attention to the New Balance Indoor nationals in which he should give an honest challenge the national record at 400 meters as well.
Interview with Oscar Smith High School (Chesapeake, VA) senior Michael Cherry
Heading into the 300 meter dash on Saturday at the state meet, you had a previous 300 meter best of 34.10 so did you realistically believe that you could drop over a full second in the event and set the national record?
Realistically I knew I was going to run something serious because early in the year when I ran 34.10, I did it with no blocks getting down out of the slower section. I also had a time trial with my coach at Boo Williams last week and ran sub 34, but breaking the national record was just an surprise to me really.
In the race itself, two-time 55 meter dash state champion Mustaqeem Williams tried to give you a race through the first half of the race at least. Talk about your start and that first 150 meters or so with Williams out strong as well?
During the race, I really didn't see Williams come up beside me. I was focusing on my race plan, but I heard the reaction Of the crowd. My main game plan was to run it like I did last year with (Justin) Burke and (Damian) Smith. I knew they were faster, but I know I'm stronger. So I knew if I got out, the race would play out just like the previous year coming down to the homestretch.
You were all grins remarkably coming down that homestretch too in that 300. Was that a face of pain or confidence or mix of both causing that grin?
I really was hurting. A lot of people think I am smiling, but I joke with people on my team. I call it the "hurt face".
What were your thoughts, emotions, and reaction as you crossed the finish line and saw that 33.05 flash on the scoreboard?
when I saw the time, I was just shocked. But I always know after I PR, my expectations are going to rise, so that makes me want to continue to work hard so I can keep getting faster.
Earlier in the 500 meter dash, you coasted relatively through the first 500 meters and letting others lead or share the lead with you before dropping the hammer in that final 100. Did that feel like one of the fastest last 100 meters that you have ever run because it sure did look like it?
Coach JB (Justin Byron at Five Star Track Club) and I always go over every race before it comes up. At states, our plan was to slightly conserve some energy in the 500, so I would be able to come back to run the 300. I wanted to just win the break (point), settle in, and let someone else carry me through 400 meters. I would then be able to sit and kick with 100 meters left. Because of my background in running the 800, I was pretty sure I would be able to do it.
Your time in the 500 meters was not slow either as it was not far off the meet record mark, yet you came back to set the national record in the 300 roughly an hour later. What did you do in between your 500 and 300 races to rest, recover, prepare, and warm-up?
In between the 500 and 300 right after I ran the 500, I exited to go put my feet up in the gym. My coaches stretched me, got my massage, and rubbed me out. I was a little nervous about being tired, but he stressed to me over and over that my workouts this indoor have been set up for me to be able to come back to run. Between every event, my coach had my rest on his watch but we had tested the state meet set up at districts when I ran 1:02. My coach clocked the time between the 500 to the 300 and it was about 37 minutes. That was actually more time than it was last year when I doubled in the 500 and 300, so at the state meet I was sure that I would have more than enough time to recover.
Another hour later and you were back on the track for the 4x400 meter relay. You got the baton several seconds back from the leaders and several runners to navigate around including 500 state runner-up Byron Robinson and pass in order to eventual bring home a 4x400 state title for Oscar Smith. Talk about that leg which you ran and did you think you had enough left in you after a 1:03 500 and 33.05 300 to run down everyone?
After all my open events I was drained so I went to the trainer after the 300. My legs was just burning from lactic acid and I was crazy tired but again got rub out and just put my feet up. The time between the 300 and 4x400 was a little more than an hour and my coach said this is way more than enough time so when the race came I was just ready to run really. Especially after I saw all the people that was running anchor with me, all of the great runners, I was just telling all my teammates over and over again keep me in reach. Just like my old teammate Joel Coelman use to tell me. I was wanting to win so bad that I wasn't going to give up, no matter what position I was in.
You also helped Oscar Smith into a top 3 team finish and team trophy at the state meet with your performances. What did it mean for you to enjoy that state meet moment with the rest of your team and coaches?
After I found out we had got third, I was ecstatic just because the whole season we have been talking about winning it all, which we didn't. I was still crazy excited because my school coach really was worried about placing at every meet that we went too and we finally placed in top three at the state meet, which I don't think that has ever happened for Oscar Smith in track.
How has your body felt the past two days after running such an incredible but tiring triple in the 500, 300, and 4x400?
After the meet, my legs where cramping horribly so I took an ice bath two days straight which I always tell my coach I hate! Ah my body was just tired all together.
You got a chance to talk to and have a photo opportunity with Felecia Majors, who had an equally impressive state meet in scoring 49 points by herself. What do you think of her accomplishments in light of your own from this past weekend?
Yes I did get to take a picture with the great Felecia Majors. I really think she is an incredible athlete. She can score in sprints all the way to field events, which just makes her remarkable. I made a joke with my teammates and said its Felecia Majors versus the state for the girls' team title.
What role or impact do the Five Star Track Club coaches have on your training and you? How did you first get involved with them? What are some advantages that you have gained working with a club and club coaches versus only working out with your high school team and coaches?
Five Star Track Club made a major impact on my life. I stress to everyone over and over again they took a kid that really didn't know much about the sport and made me an all-around better athlete. When I first joined them my coordination was horrible first off. I stood up in the 400 because I didn't know how to use blocks and really didn't know how to run the 400. My technique was jog the first 200 meters and sprint home. My first summer I joined, they worked on my form, race technique, and coordination. My junior year I saw myself coming together when I opened up with a PR out of lane one. I knew from then that I was going to have a good junior year. They allowed me to travel with them and take me to many meets to see other competition, so when the state meet comes up, competition would not affect me. We actually have great an indoor faculty we call the "Dungeon". Coach Byron gets me into Boo Williams and on rubber tracks during the season which helps me out greatly because my school track is concrete. I really believe that I have a great group of coaches there, so technically they have made me better athlete and made me a true student of track & field.
What kind of training do you expect to do to prepare for nationals?
Heading into nationals, I'm going to be doing many broken workouts. Just quality things & tune ups to have me ready.
After running a 46.5 on a flat track for 400 meters in your anchor leg split. Does that give you greater confidence on chasing after the high school national 400 meter record on the banked track at the Armory for the New Balance Nationals?
After I ran 46.5, I'm very confident but I don't know. That record is going to be real hard to break.
What kind of race do you feel you will need to run in order to challenge the national record indoor 400 meter time?
To challenge the 400 meter record, I am going to have to run very aggressive race. Most importantly win the break and lead the race. Something that I failed to do last year but I feel like I am way more experienced running on a banked track and I feel like my coaches will have me prepared mentally and physically.