June 25--Amaris Tyynismaa had big expectations going into the AHSAA Class 4A state track and field meet this year.
The Catholic freshman was set to run the 400 meters, the 800 meters, the 1,600 meters and the 3,200 meters.
She won two events, broke her own state-meet record in one race, and placed third in a race she had never competed in before on a state level. She remains the top female distance runner in state and is arguably one of the top freshman runners in the country.
Tyynismaa is this year's Montgomery Advertiser All-Metro Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
"I was supposed to win, all of them," she said of her performance at the state meet. "But that didn't happen. The 1,600 was a fun race. I ran it how I was supposed to. The 3,200 ... that was not fun. I wanted to run a personal best for the season, so that's what I was going for. And in the 800, I was not sad that I was beat, because I got a pretty good darn time for a freshman."
She might have placed second in the 800 meters to Wilson senior Cele Moon, but she broke her own state-meet record, finishing with a time of 2:14.37.
She won the 1,600 in 5:04.9, and she also won the 3,200 in 11:03.92.
New to Tyynisma this year was the 400-meter race, which she finished in third in 1:00.2.
On Alabama Runners, Tyynismaa ranks first in the 1,600 and 3,200 on a 4A "best performance" list over the past decade. She ranks sixth in the 400, and third in the 800.
Goals for next year?
Crush it. I'm dead serious, like go to Foot Locker, go to San Diego. I'm just going to work really hard. I was kind of a slacker this year. I didn't run hard at all at practice. I just wasn't wanting to work hard. I've been working really hard (since state), and every time I run now, currently, I'm just thinking about getting better and better and killing myself each day so I can get where I want to be. Because that's what I did in eighth grade. I was like killing myself every day, and did great.
Were you burned out after your eighth-grade year?
No. I think I changed, my body, and I was not as determined my ninth-grade year.
Why did you want to run the 400 meters at state?
Coach (Kevin) Madden wanted me to run that, actually. I was either going to run the (1,600 relay) or the 400 meters and to get points for our team, he thought it would be a good idea for me to run the 400. I've run a 59 (seconds) before. I had literally just run the 3,200 meters (before running the 400 meters).
Will you run the 400 again next year?
Oh, no. Probably not. Maybe the (1,600 relay).
How do you feel overall about state track?
I think it was all right. I'm serious. I'm going to work really hard over the summer time, and I'm going to be where I want to be for cross country. I'm serious. You're going to see a new Amaris. I'm going to work really hard and it's going to be really difficult and there's probably going to be a lot of sweat and crying, but it's going to pay off because that's what I need to do. It took me a whole year to realize.
Where is the mental shift coming from?
I took two months off in the summer (of 2015) because of my knees, so I hadn't run for for three months. I took off two months because of my knees, and that first month back at school, I didn't even do anything because I was influenced by people around me. Cross country was rough, looking back.
Did you feel a lot of pressure this year?
Oh, yeah, because everyone was always like, 'She's not as good as last year. So she's probably only going to get slower through high school.' But I'm going to do good. It's going to be good. A good year.
So you felt pressure for your freshman year to be faster?
Yes. But I was weaker, in the mind. Because I didn't know what I wanted. I didn't even know if I wanted to run anymore.
Are you running the "freshman mile" at New Balance Nationals Outdoor this year?
I am. Tyynismaa placed second at nationals with a time of 5:06.01.
Plans for next year? Let's talk about cross country first.
The slowest (coach) wants me to run is a a 16:57, so basically my PR. The fastest would be 16:44. I need to train harder than I ever have trained. I am going to a camp at Duke in July.
What did you learn from this track season?
That natural talent only goes so far. You have to actually work hard to get what you want. That's it.
What about track next year, are you looking that far ahead?
New Balance and Foot Locker. I'm looking at the big stuff. Big, big, big. Crush it, crush it, crush it.
With Cele Moon gone, who is your competition?
I'm just focused on me. I don't care about anyone else right now.
What do you want to add about this past year and your accomplishments?
To learn to love yourself as a runner and as a person. Run for you and don't run for anybody else.
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