It was on Ardell Inlay's mind all summer.
What does the East senior need to do to be the fastest runner in Class 4A this season and maybe even the state?
Inlay came close to capturing that title last season but Bernard Bell Jr., from Ames, won the Class 4A title in the 100-meter dash at the state track meet in 10.60 seconds, two-tenths of a second faster than Inlay, who finished as the runner-up in 4A.
It was the third fastest time in the 100 at state. West Liberty's Tanner Iske had the fastest time, 10.58, but he graduated. However, Bell Jr. was a junior last year.
So Inlay trained all offseason to beat Bell Jr. or any others who may challenge him for the 100 title at state.
"I've been training all year. As soon as I got second place, it drove me all year. I haven't stopped," Inlay said. "Every practice, every day, what is the guy doing that I am not doing and what can I do to improve. I've always wanted to strive to be the greatest."
Inlay, who is the Sioux City Journal Metro Athlete of the Week, currently has the top time in the 100 not only in 4A, but also in the state with a time of 10.74, just ahead of Harrison Waylee's 10.75.
The outdoor track season has only been going for about two weeks and the 10.74 is already a personal best for Inlay, who also set PR's in the indoor season.
"I am ahead of where I thought I would be. I've already been able to change my training to be even faster than I thought I would be," Inlay said. "I would love to be at 10.5 or 10.6 by Drake and state. I've only run a couple of 100's since the outdoor season started."
Training has never been an issue with Inlay, who works with East assistant coach Joe Glass, who is the sprints coach. It's why Inlay went from running on the relays at the state meet as a freshman to competing in the 100 the last two years on the blue oval at state.
East coach Rick Clarahan said each season, Inlay becomes a better technical runner and a more efficient runner.
"He's learning how to do the little things that it takes to be a great sprinter. His start has gotten much better. He takes the stuff coach Glass has given him," Clarahan said. "As a freshman, when you are fast you are fast. He was just one of the relay guys whereas when he was a sophomore and junior, he came into his own. I think he took to heart the stuff coach Glass worked with him and he got more serious about the things he needed to do to be great."
Working on his craft goes back to Inlay's drive to be the best sprinter in the state.
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"He feels like he's capable of winning it. I think that drives him a lot and he knows he has a chance to win it all," Clarahan said. "He wants to be a Drake and a state champion. He's working hard, doing the things he needs to do in the weight room."
Inlay is still deciding on where he wants to run at college. He has several schools interested in him and Inlay said he's looking for the best fit still.
Wherever Inlay goes, Clarahan said that program is getting a quality athlete and a quality person.
"He's a good team leader. One of the hardest working guys on the team. He leads by example and gets the others to do what they need to do," Clarahan said. "He puts in the extra time, does the extra stretching, gets the extra treatment to stay healthy. He's a great example for the other kids to look up to."
The 100 may be Inlay's main event but it's not his only event. He has the fifth-best 200-meter dash time in the state at 22.62. He's been a key piece in the 4x100-meter relay, which has the fourth-best time in the state at 43.23, and the 4x200-meter relay, which also has the fourth-best time in the state at 1:30.78.
Clarahan also thinks Inlay has the ability to qualify in the 400-meter dash and the long jump. His time in the 400 is 51.35 seconds and his best jump this season is 21-feet, 5.5-inches. So Clarahan has a decision to make on what events Inlay will run come postseason time.
All of it goes back to Inlay's competitive nature and how much he enjoys running.
"It's my life. If I couldn't run, I don't know what I would do. Fourth grade is when I started. Since then, I just loved it," Inlay said. "You can let go and forget about everything. Just you and the track and the clock. In the blocks, it feels like a long time and as soon as the gun goes off, I finish before I even know it."
Track and Field
Nya Diew, South Sioux City ... Diew swept the throws during the Gretna Invite on Friday. Diew threw 134-feet, 5-inches to win the girls discus title and threw 41-1 to win the girls shot put title.
Jorma Schwedler, Sergeant Bluff-Luton ... Schwedler helped lead the Warriors win their own meet. Schwedler won the 100-meter dash in 11.35 seconds, he won the 200-meter dash in 22.88 and won the 400-meter dash in 50.33. He was part of the winning 4x100 relay, also.