A self-described ‘chubby kid’ in middle school who ran the distance races in track, Vernon High School junior Case Fleming never dreamed about running the 100-meter dash, much less qualifying for the state meet, but that’s exactly what he did last week at the Class 3A Region 1 Track & Field Meet.

After finishing second in the District 7-3A Track & Field Meet and at the Area Meet, Case popped his best time of the year, 10.65 seconds, to capture the Region 1 crown and advance to the Class 3A State Track & Field Meet. All of the Class 3A events will be held Thursday at the University of Texas in Austin.

It was a photo finish at the regional meet and Case didn’t know if he’d won when he crossed the finish line.

“I didn’t know I’d won until Coach (Kevin) Sherrill came up and hugged me,” Case said with a smile. “I didn’t know, and then I saw the time, and I was just amazed. I knew I got a good start out of the blocks and I finished strong, but I didn’t know what the time was.”

At the District 7-3A Meet, Case finished second with a time of 11.03 seconds, and was second again at the Area Meet six days later although he shaved almost three-tenths of a second off his time and dropped it to 10.74. Nine days after the Area Meet, Case took the track again and saw almost another full tenth of a second come off his time.

“I thought I could run faster,” he said. “I’ve been running a lot of 150 (meter) sprints to help me finish stronger.”

Case had the second-fastest time coming out of the preliminaries at the regional meet, and while he was happy with that, he knew it really didn’t matter.

“I had a good time in the prelims, but that doesn’t help in the finals. You have to go out and do it again,” he said.

Case, who also plays football, baseball and is on the bass fishing team, started running the 100-meter dash last year as a sophomore. “When I got to high school I slimmed up and started running faster,” he explained with a shrug.

This year he also ran a leg on the sprint relay and the 800-meter relay, and while both advanced to regionals, neither were able to make it out to state.

Unlike other track meets, at the state meet you only get one shot at hitting your best time, as there are no preliminaries – only finals. That may add a little more pressure, but it also frees runners up because they know they don’t have to hold anything back for a second race.

“I’m excited and I feel good about it,” Case said. “I can run even faster. I just have to go do it.”