By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala - By the time Auburn sprinter Kahlil Henderson steps into the starting blocks at this week's NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, he's already raced and won the 200 meters many times, in his mind.
"Before, I just try to visualize myself winning. I believe you have to see yourself do it before you do it," Henderson says. "During, try to stay disciplined to my game plan, which is get a good takeoff, run fast under control, finish strong."
That strategy has worked well for Henderson, a two-time All-American in the 200.
"I'm usually satisfied with the time that I run after I accomplish my before and during," he says.
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) June 1, 2016
Henderson, who ran a personal best 20.20 in the 200 at the NCAA East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla., believes he's peaking at the right time.
"Coach knows how to set us up to do that," he says.
He's already qualified for next month's U.S. Olympic trials, which, like NCAAs, will also be held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
"Just trying to go sub-20. I feel like I'm already on track to go sub-20," Henderson say. "I'm already running faster times now than I was last year. So I believe everything's going to be better."
Henderson's ultimate goal to finish in the top 3 at trials, earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team and a trip to Rio.
"I will have to run 19, most likely, to make the team," he says. "It's very fast, but I believe it's possible. It's everybody's goal to put the time and work in on the track to go to the Olympics."
After he has run his last 200, Henderson, a Political Science major, wants to either be a college coach or counselor.
"I've worked really hard to get to where I am now, and I've worked hard to accomplish the majority of my goals," he says. "I'm a hard-worker."
Henderson will compete in two events at NCAAs, the 200, and the 4x100m relay.
"I prefer the 200 because I can rely solely on myself," he says. "Plus I'm better at the 200, and I'm nationally ranked, so it makes me want to run it more."
Growing up in south Florida, Henderson wanted to go to college out-of-state, preferably in the SEC.
"When I came to Auburn, it was like a family atmosphere," he says. "And everything kind of felt like home here. It kind of made my decision easier."
Three years later, Henderson has not regretted that decision for one minute, or to put it in `Kahlil time,' three heats of the 200.
"It's a family atmosphere. Everybody wants you to help you do better. I never really felt homesick being here, because it's like a second home," he says. "The people really work with you. Help you get better. They genuinely care how you do, and how you perform, in school and track. Everything kind of worked out perfectly."
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) June 7, 2016
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer