Nevada’s McHugh places ninth in 400-meter prelims

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY — Nevada High School track standout Devin McHugh narrowly missed qualifying for the Missouri Class 4 400-meter dash finals.

McHugh needed a top eight finish to advance out of Friday’s prelims and into the finals. The NHS junior, however, placed ninth out of 16, clocking a 50.99.

“Devin had a great season,” said NHS assistant track-and-field coach, Ryan Watts. “He really came into his own once he started focusing on the 400-meter event.”

Added Watts: “Devin ran multiple distances throughout the season to see which would give him the best opportunity to succeed. Once it became clear it was the 400, and his workouts at practice became more tailored for that race specifically, he started to see great success.”

Watts said McHugh’s cross country background greatly aided him in his pursuit for a state-qualifying time in the 400-meter dash.

“His history of running distances up to 5K helped him, as he had both fabulous cardio to be able to finish the race strong — and also the experience of being able to strategize before and during a race.”

Said Watts: “We would game-plan how we thought the race might go, much as we would with longer distances, which gave him an advantage that runners without the distance background might not have. So when he raced, he had a pretty good idea of how things would lay out — and when to attack, and when to recharge so that he could finish as strong as possible.”

McHugh had previously clocked a sub-50 second time in the event.

“Running in the 49’s is such an achievement,” noted Watts. “(NHS) hasn’t had a boy get into the 49’s in a long time. That is a great time that he can feel really good about moving forward.”

Watts further expounded upon McHugh’s state prelim performance.

“He ran a great race at state. It was roughly a half second off his best time of the season, which came the week before,” said the veteran coach.

Watts said McHugh’s training regimen was designed for him to peak two weeks prior at the district meet.

“It is very difficult to maintain your peak performance,” began Watts. “Devin maintained that and, even improved on it the following week at sectionals. Holding that top-flight performance for three weeks is so tough to do. With such a great junior season under his belt, his workouts next year will be designed to peak at state, which should result in an even better finale to his season.

“But for his first year at state, to just miss the medal stand by one place, and less than a second is a phenomenal achievement. I am very proud of him, and it’s an achievement he should be very proud of as well.”

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