Last season, Weatherford placed 19th in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:20.59, but this year she sitting in a different position. Weatherford comes into the state meet with the third fastest seed time (2:15.26) behind only Bethany Neely of Eastern and returning state champion and state record holder Abby Farley.
She has her work cut out for her, but head coach Garry Anderson believes his sophomore could make some big waves in tonight's 800-meter final.
"This is, to me, one of the special times of the year -- the state finals," Anderson said. "This is the big finale and boy she's worked her tail off to get there. She's so easy to coach and her determination and her want to win, and want to be successful is quite a drive.
"She's got a good shot tomorrow -- to probably place in the top five -- I won't go any further than that," he said. "We have goals, we've talked about them, and boy I tell you what, she'll give it all she's got, I know that. She and I have talked about this year for the past week, so I know she's ready."
Weatherford has cut a full five seconds from last year's time in the event and Anderson said it all started in the off-season.
"It is, but she lifted weights all winter, harder than her freshman year. And she's stronger, she's more mature and she knows how to run that 800 now. Last year she ran it, but now she's racing. There's a big difference," Anderson said.
Anderson said the biggest obstacles in her way are Farley and Neely, but he thinks Weatherford can give them all they can handle.
"She's capable of handing them all they want," Anderson said.
Anderson said he watched Weatherford grow as a runner throughout the year and they've prepped all season to get her to the point where she is tonight.
"I watched her as she comes up against each race and she knows why we're putting her in certain events," Anderson said.
The coach explained that at the beginning of the year she ran the 800- and 1,600-meters and then the dropped the 1,600-meter and included the 400-meter run to increase her speed. He also talked about the benefits of her weight training and the tough competition she faced toward the end of her regular season and into tournament season.
"The weight, oh, she increased her strength on the weights tremendously and it paid off. It paid off big time," Anderson said. "She's beat some good kids along the way too. Especially in the sectional and the latter part of our season against some tough teams.
"But in the sectional and regional, she won it going away. In the sectional she probably won it by 25-30 meters and in the regional probably 15-20 meters. So it was no close call -- she won it," he added.
What makes a champion different is the drive in which they attach their passion. That drive is something Anderson believes makes Weatherford a special runner. She's also getting the support of one of her team captains on her path to state.
"She's determined. I'm glad to have an athlete like her. She makes coaching a lot of fun. She's also had some additional help this last week and a half. Emily Gill, one of the team's captains, has worked out with her everyday," Anderson said.
This is Weatherford's second go-around at state and the sophomore now knows what to expect.
"Last year she didn't know what to expect. She went up there and ran her little heart out and still did well for a freshman. She hadn't learned how to race yet and she didn't have the strength she has now. Now the determination, the focus -- it's just different than last year," Anderson said.
Weatherford will go for the 800-meter run title tonight at approximately 7:45 p.m.