Jake Merrell runs 1:55.14 this weekend and dunks in a basketball game
Turkey Valley senior Jake Merrell opened up his track season this weekend in Colorado at the Air Force High School Indoor Open and dropped the top 800m time in Texas and the 15th best in the nation by going 1:55.14 for the win.
The fascinating aspect of it all is that Merrell isn't really in track season, yet. Merrell plays center on the Turkey Valley basketball team and spends his time primarily practicing with his team on the court instead of specifically training for track, like most other athletes in the sport are currently doing.
But with a 10-0 district record, the Turkey Valley boys basketball team is undefeated in district play and is 14-1 overall. Merrell averages 15 points per game and has five dunks in district play. "Basketball is fun, it's just right before track season, so it's kinda difficult to do both," he said recently.
So, how does he just jump off the court on to the track and bust an elite time? "I try to get just a few long runs in through the week. I try to keep my legs fresh for the games during the week, so I usually can get like 3-4 30 minute runs in."
Merrell runs indoor PR 1:55.14
This past fall, Merrell placed fifth at the UIL 1A state cross country meet and he also ran a 15:29 5K PR during the season.
As far as the race this weekend, Merrell is optimistic about how he performed, "It honestly felt good, I wasn't completely gassed at the end." Not having the base and fitness most athletes that are running indoor track in the month of February, Merrell knew he had to run a moderate race. "I knew I couldn't go out fast, so I let them set the pace and tried to put together a kick at the end. I though it was a great opener at altitude and being my first indoor meet ever."
Coming off of the 2017 state track meet, one for the ages where he won the first boys distance triple crown in Texas UIL state meet history (800m,1600m, 3200,) and all three events in UIL 1A state meet records, Merrell could be in for an even better 2018 track season. In the 800m, his premiere event, running 1:55.14 this weekend off of minimal training has him just one second off his 1A state record of 1:54.10.
Watch out for Merrell's 2018 season when he does return to the track full time!