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Laramie's Flynn Arnold running with passion going into state meet

May 16—It'd be hard to find another student-athletes who loves their respective sport as much as Laramie High sophomore Andrew Flynn Arnold.

Arnold is a true student of track and field, obsessing over ways to improve. A sprinter by nature, he primarily runs the 400-meter dash, and hopes to claim the first state championship of his career at this weekend's Wyoming Class 4A state outdoor track and field state meet in Casper.

"(Arnold) is a track nerd," Laramie sprints coach Kyle Stucky said. "That's the equivalent to a gym rat in volleyball or basketball. He knows the name of every high performer in the state, college and professionally.

"He watches film on others, makes adjustments and shapes that into his running. His mindset is what sets him apart from others. He's a confident runner that runs every meet with the intensity of state."

His passion for running comes from his father, Andrew, and mother, Jessica. They have both helped provide motivation for Arnold to want to be the best.

"It's not just the winning for me," Arnold said. "It's also really fun. I find joy in it. They've told me to keep at it, stay humble and (that they) have blessed me with runner genetics."

At this season's Wyoming Track Classic, Arnold broke Laramie's school record in the 400 at 48.46 seconds. The 6-foot-1 sprinter topped that at the East Conference meet last weekend, finishing second at 47.74.

Arnold trailed Thunder Basin's Bradley Ekstrom by 13-hundredths of a second and finished 22-hundredths ahead of Sheridan's Aiden O'Leary. At state, he hopes to break the state record of 47.63.

"(Ekstrom) has been really good this year," Arnold said. "We've helped each other push for better times. He's good competition, but I believe I can take state."

The run at regionals was a new personal-best for Arnold, meaning he'll likely have to beat that again to claim a state title. He has not beaten that time in practice, but believes visualization will go a long way toward achieving that goal.

"(Visualization) is a huge part of my training," Arnold said. "If I can visualize running faster than my PR, then I can run it. I try to do a little each day and about 30-40 minutes before my races.

"I didn't do it last year, and I was pretty uncomfortable with the idea of it. This year, I've embraced it."

On the track, Arnold gets off the block and accelerates to his top speed quickly. The length and power in his strides allows him to maintain that speed over the entire 400 meters, Stucky said.

What Arnold does off the track has also been reflected in his results. He puts a lot of emphasis on diet and recovery.

"(Arnold) doesn't shy away from workouts," Stucky said. "He eats right, focuses on recovery, hydrates and does all the little things."

The passion to do those little things come from his hatred of losing. Arnold told his coaches he wants to be the fastest 400 runner Wyoming has ever seen.

"Losing isn't a good feeling," Arnold said. "The mindset is always to win, and with winning comes PRs."

Arnold writes his goals on his bathroom mirror so he'll see them every day. The upper corner of his mirror reads, "Win the state championship in the 400."

Summer training was a big deal for Arnold. The sophomore put a focus on the weight room, and he now lifts up to four times per week during the season. As a result, he's had a five-second drop from his first race as a freshman.

"(A win at state) would mean a great deal," Arnold said. "I'm a sophomore, so the opportunity to three-peat is huge."

Added Stucky: "(Arnold) is a dedicated and driven athlete. He was a competitive freshman, which isn't easy to do in boys track and field. That is a ton of time to drop."

Arnold is also one leg of the Plainsmen's 4x100 relay along with teammates Jackson Reed, Evan Crum and Logan Brown. Stucky mentioned the team is simply trying to pass the baton cleanly with no room for error.

"If you do have an error, it's over," Arnold said. "It's going to be a bad race if your transitions aren't smooth. When you're in a relay, if you win, you get to celebrate it with your guys for the rest of your lives."

Added Stucky: "He is the rising tide that lifts all ships and leads by example. (Arnold, Reed and Brown) have been great training partners. Depending on the distance at practice, anyone of those guys can win."

In addition to Brown and Reed, Arnold referenced Laramie graduate John Rose as someone who has acted as a mentor to him. He said his teammates, both current and former, have helped shaped his mindset and work ethic.

For Arnold, practice allows him to clear his mind from the day and focus on grinding out a tough workout. He learned early on if practice is miserable, it will only make the season harder on the individual.

"If I know it's a hard day, I have to dig in and grit it out," Arnold said. "Practice is the building block to running as fast as you can. Fundamentally, one of the most important things you can do is have a good mindset.

"That's what's going to drive you to get better."

The ability to push through pain separates the good runners from the great ones. Arnold mentioned having to want the success more than the next person in order to tolerate the workload.

"You have to know if you push through the pain, you'll get more out of it," Arnold said. "The drive for greatness and wanting it more helps you push through."

While Arnold prepares like failure isn't an option, he understands there will be meets he doesn't set a PR. He's learned to get over it quickly, because the results can't be changed.

"What can you do about it?" Arnold said. "You have to use it as motivation for the next time and the time after that."

Added Stucky: "Hungry and humble are what we preach. This kid is motivated by his times and leaves it all on the line.

"Those that have run the 400 know the pain that comes with it, but Flynn embraces it, welcomes it and celebrates with his family right after races."

Austin Edmonds covers Laramie High, University of Wyoming and community athletics for WyoSports. He can be reached at aedmonds@wyosports.net. Follow him on X at @_austinedmonds.