photo: Bobby Reyes / MileSplit Colorado
The term "breakout season" is often overused but in the case of what TAVON UNDERWOOD accomplished this past spring you can not avoid using it. Underwood, 19, of Firestone and a recent graduate of Mead High School ended his high school career with an exclamation mark as he won Colorado 4A state titles at 200m (20.93), 400m (45.36), and 800m (1:51.97) and was second in the 100m (10.67). All four were personal bests for Underwood as the 400m time set the Colorado state record and makes him the #16 U.S. All-Time performer. The previous Colorado state record was 46.23 set in 2016 by Jacob Scheuerman. Contrast that to a year earlier where he finished fifth in the 100m; seventh in the 200m, and fourth in the 400m and you can begin to see why this was a breakout year for Underwood. From his junior to senior years he improved his 100m time from 11.04 to 10.67; his 200m time from to 21.99 to 20.93 and his 400m time from 48.72 to 45.38. And to top it all off he tried the 800m for the first time and his 1:51.97 is #21 Colorado All-Time.
Following the Colorado championship season Underwood did not slow down as he won the 400m (45.78) at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle and New Balance Outdoor Nationals (45.82) in Philadelphia. His 45.38 qualified him for both the USATF U20 as well as the USATF Senior Championships which were both held in Eugene, Oregon in early July. Underwood elected to forgo the U20 Championships to compete against the professionals in the Senior championships. Unfortunately he was disqualified for a lane violation. Three weeks later he was back in Eugene competing in the National Junior Olympic Championships where he was the favorite to win the 400m. After finishing 15th in the 100m and third in the 200m he won his opening heat of the 400m in 46.69 but aggravated his hamstring and had to withdraw from the competition. The winning time in the event was 46.90.
Underwood will use the disappoints of the final two meets in Eugene as motivation as he begins his collegiate career at Kansas State University.
In our interview with Underwood he tells us how he got his start in track, his favorite restaurant, his favorite music, who he would most like to have lunch (and dinner) with, and what factored into his decision to matriculate to Kansas State University.
So let's Get to Know......Tavon Underwood.
I started Track when my Dad put me in it when I was around 9 or 10 but did not take it very seriously as I prefered soccer. I competed in the USATF Colorado youth program in middle school but only with moderate success. I played soccer during high school but my interest in track was always there and I decided to focus more on track during my last two years of high school. I quickly realized I had made the right choice as my committment to track grew so did my successes.
My first most memorable highlight was when my 4x2 placed second at State, in my Sophomore year. This is what initially sparked my interest in Track. My second most memorable moment was when I won Nike Nationals and became a national champion in the 400. This was one of those indescribable moments that I thought I would only dream of. My third most memorable highlight was winning the 200,400, and 800 at the Colorado State Track and Field Championships this year. There was so much work and sacrifice that led up to that moment and that weekend ensured me that it was all worth it in the end.
Competing at the National Junior Olympics was an eye-opener for me. I was hardly even able to make it past the preliminary rounds. Being there, made me realize that I wanted to be the person who won national meets like that. After that, I decided to work toward committing a more significant portion of my time to training and competing at the national level.
The off-the-track memories I will carry from my high school career are those that I made as an individual and amongst friends. I will always remember the fun times I had with my friends and all the things we did together.
My 400m time dropped from 53 in my sophomore year to 45 in my senior year.
Randall Tyson Track Center (University of Arkansas)
Music where they yell really loud.
Dragon Ball, Breaking Bad.
Instagram - @tavonunderwood
My favorite athlete, for a while, has been Noah Lyles. I think we have similar interests/hobbies. Also, his outgoingness, exuberant attitude and public persona are something I strive to have one day.
Kansas State had the best facilities among the schools that I had visited up to that point. The coaching staff was very friendly and the athletes living situations looked very comfortable. The assistance and support they provided for athletes was beyond anything I had seen before.
Other schools I considered were Colorado, UCCS, Belmont, Arizona State, Missouri, Western Colorado, Western Illinois, Tulsa, Davidson, Southern Utah, Georgia, LSU, and a few others.
In 5 years, I want to be living comfortably as an engineering graduate from Kansas State University and a professional athlete with many medals and accolades to his name.
Statisical information from
MileSplit Colorado, Colorado Track Stats, and Track & Field News