Something changed between April 19 and 26 for Tatiana Riordan.
Something that transformed her from a competitive runner into a dominant one, a record-setting one, completely different from the one who began the season.
Riordan ran the table from April 26 on, winning Kanto and Far East individual gold in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters in Far East meet record fashion, and also helped her American School In Japan 3,200 relay team set a Far East meet record.
“She came out of nowhere toward the end the season,” said Bruce Carrick, meet manager for both the Kanto Plain regular season and finals and for last month’s Far East meet at Yokota. “I wasn’t expecting her to win” at Far East.
For rebounding and coming on so strongly as the season wound down, Riordan, a sophomore, has been named Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school girls track and field Athlete of the Year.
The difference between Riordan’s first three weeks and her last three weeks of the season was a matter of control, coach Ryosuke Suzuki said. She had allowed others to control the races the first three weeks; she seized control herself the rest of the way.
“She decided to run her own race and find ways to win,” Suzuki said. “Tanya just found a way. And it worked out for her.”
She took eight seconds off her time in the 800 and six each in the 1,500 and 3,000 during the regular season. From 12:09.09 in the Kanto finals, Riordan posted an 11:50.50 in the Far East meet.
That puts her just over four seconds from the Pacific record of 11:46.0, set in 2004 by Crystal Sandness of Kubasaki.
“We knew she was in great shape” from the cross-country season, Suzuki said. “It was just a matter of time… it really wasn’t a surprise.”
Though Riordan is just starting to tap her potential, a new threat coming on the horizon may challenge Riordan for Kanto and Far East supremacy next season: Seisen freshman Brittani Shappell, who ran the 1,500 in 4:59.85 last season as an eighth-grader.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Suzuki said.