Ask Ky Westbrook about the last few meters of a close race and she won’t be able to say much.
“When I’m racing, and I see people right next to me, my adrenaline kicks in and my mind blanks out,” she said. “I never remember anything. I have to watch the video.”
So far during her short high school career, the Chandler sophomore hasn’t had many close races. This year, Westbrook won the 100 and 200 meter state titles for the second straight year and lowered her times considerably. Her 100-meter personal record of 11.65 seconds ranks her third on the all-time Arizona charts and her 24.06 in the 200 is getting her close to the elite 23-second barrier. Throw in the fact that she was also the Division I runner-up in the shot put and it’s easy to see how Westbrook is the Tribune’s girls track athlete of the year.
“My freshman year, it was definitely about doing the best that I can and see what happens,” said Westbrook. “This year, there was an expectation. In the beginning, there was a fear of those expecations, but as I got into the year and saw the results, I knew it was going to be a good year.”
It wasn’t all good for the Chandler team, and in turn for Westbrook. Just a short time after the team won the Chandler Rotary Invitational — beating powerful Long Beach Poly in the process — Chandler lost its team leader, senior Jasmine Todd, to a knee injury.
For Westbrook, Todd’s injury was doubly painful.
“It was sad, because she was my biggest competition and the more competition you have, the more it pushes you,” Westbrook said. “She’s one of my role models, so I was shocked.
After she got hurt, she came every day, but it wasn’t the same without her.”
Westbrook said that Todd’s injury did have one positive effect because, in a roundabout way, it helped her relax.
“Since I beat her last year, I felt more pressure to do it again,” Westbrook said. “It took the pressure off.”
Westbrook said motivation isn’t hard to find, despite the fact that she has conquered Arizona in the sprints. All she has to do is go online and look at the national charts.
“I look at (track website) Dyestat all the time and see those times dropping,” Westbrook said. “When I see my times go lower and lower on the charts, I get frustrated and want to get faster.”
Westbrook shot up the Dyestat charts at the Division I state meet when she clocked a wind-aided 11.42, which ranks No. 5 in the nation, regardless of conditions. Her 11.65 is ranked 14th among wind-legal marks. Among sophomores, only one has run faster (wind-legal) than Westbrook, Long Beach Poly’s Arianna Washington, who ran 11.45. Westbrook beat Washington when they faced off at the Chandler Rotary Invitational in March.
“When I get out of state and get to race girls like that, it makes me better and forces me to improve,” Westbrook said. “Those are the girls I need to race and compete with.”
Westbrook isn’t done competing quite yet. She competed on June 2 at the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Carolina, Puerto Rico. She won the 18-and-19-year-old division (Westbrook is 16), in 11.90 and was fourth in the 200, 24.76. She plans to compete at the Golden West Invitational at Folsom, Calif. on Saturday and then the inaugural Arizona Sprints Showcase on June 22-23 at Chandler High School.
After that, it’s rest and reload for her junior season.