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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Concordia junior Symone Black begins her quest for state titles in the 100 and 300 hurdles today at the Northrop sectional.

Hurdler carries lofty goals into sectionals

Cadets’ Black wants state title and more

Meet the new and improved Symone Black.

With a new attitude and a stronger physique, the Concordia junior hurdler is out to take the next step up the podium at the state finals. As the postseason begins today with the sectional, Black’s progression has put her in a position to do just that.

Last season, Black finished second in the 300-meter hurdles and fifth in the 100 hurdles at state.

“Last year, I didn’t have a purpose,” Black said. “This year, my purpose is to win. To get that done, I have to have the right mindset going into each race.

“You just get a different experience and get stronger each year. It will get better and better. It is just a good foundation to get to the state meet.”

Also, Black has worked on the physical part by getting into the weight room during team workouts and making huge strides there as well. Her bench press has improved from 60 pounds as a freshman to 115 pounds this year – with more to come.

“That is what will propel her to state records and Olympic status,” said Concordia hurdle coach Kenneth Cammack, who expects Black to reach 160 pounds on the bench press next year. “That’s how we are approaching it. That’s still not a lot of weight, but that’s a great progression for her. We have taken a sprinter and made her a hurdler, and then made her stronger. She will get even stronger yet.”

The development has shown this season as her times of 14.48 in the 100 hurdles and 44.25 in the 300 hurdles ranks No. 1 in the state.

The dramatic change is almost expected considering Black has been a full-time hurdler only since her freshman season. A track runner since she was a fifth grade, Black began hurdling some in eighth grade and started doing the event more as a freshman as a backup plan.

“It has been pretty phenomenal because Symone really has only been hurdling for two years,” Cammack said. “What held her back last year was because it was her first year. We were concentrating on teaching her more fundamentally on how to hurdle. This year, she had the mechanics of it down, and you had to put the two together.

“She was a runner before, but she wasn’t a hurdler. This year, it has been about teaching her to be a real hurdler. That has been her progression, and it has been phenomenal because we have had to cram what normally takes several years into two years.”

Black holds the SAC meet records in the both 100 and 300 hurdles, but Cammack said her prospects for success go beyond being the best in Fort Wayne.

“I told Symone when I started coaching her that I wasn’t teaching her to be the best in the city, I was coaching her to be the best in the state and set her up for the Olympic trials at some point,” he said. “She never thought of herself as someone just trying to beat the competition around here. She always thought of herself as being the best.”