RICHLAND -- Hanford's Veronica Bradley is taking an entirely different mental approach to track and field this season, and it is already paying dividends.
Nearly a year removed from a disastrous regional meet where Bradley failed to qualify for the state meet in the high jump, the senior is taking things decidely easier this season.
"Last year, I thought of every meet as a big meet," she said. "It was stressful. This year, I'm trying to stay more relaxed and not stress out about each meet. What really matters is district, regionals and state."
The season has gotten off to great success for Bradley, who cleared 5 feet, 6 inches at the Richland Jamboree on March 19. The height is a personal best for Bradley and ties the school record with Taymussa Miller, who cleared the height in 2008.
"She has been progressing fairly well since she was a freshman," Hanford girls track and field coach Doug Bosted said. "She definitely has some natural ability, but she has worked her tail off to get where she is at."
Bradley finished 14th at state as a sophomore in the high jump and it was assumed she would be right back at the state meet as a junior.
But at the regional meet at Eisenhower High in Yakima, a combination of factors proved to be her downfall as she only cleared 5-0.
"For one thing, my body was tired," she said. "I don't know if I had worn my legs out or what. Also, we used the side of the field where you have to run up a little bit of a grass incline in order to jump. That was very difficult.
"I should've been able to overcome it, but it was just the combo of my legs and the hill, and yeah ..."
Armed with her new mental approach, Bosted and Bradley think the sky is the limit.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see 5-8 or 5-10, which would be huge," Bosted said. "She can do it."
Bradley is trying not to worry about specific heights, however.
"I don't really set expectations like that," she said. "I think I could as long as I keep working on my form and consistency. I really just want to make it to state and do well and feel good about the season."
Connell: Apparently, Bryant Andersen should've come out for the track and field team before his senior season.
The do-everything star for the Eagles played baseball as a sophomore and concentrated on weight lifting for football as a junior. As a senior, he and Kraymer Eppich were convinced by football and track coach Wayne Riner to take part in track.
Andersen is doing more than taking part, as he has the top Class 1A 200-meter time in the state (22.93 seconds) and the ninth best 100 time (11.46).
"I wasn't expecting this at all," Andersen said. "I thought I'd do decent. When I saw my times I was pretty stunned at how fast they were. My first goals were to make it to state, and now I'm hoping to place in state."
Both of Andersen's times would've won state titles last year, though faster times were run in the preliminaries at state a year ago.
Andersen is running the 100, 200 and 4x100-meter relay so far and he may end up on the 4x400 relay team as well.
"It's a matter of building up my endurance and getting my legs ready," Andersen said. "I've always been somewhat fast, but Riner has helped me with a lot of the form and the starting blocks. He has helped a lot."