BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - When Nicole Payne steps onto the track at state, she has one goal in mind, run faster than 53.89 seconds in the 400-meter dash.
"I'm not trying to put too much pressure on myself, but just enough to get things done," Nicole Payne said.
The Oak Mountain High School junior has extra motivation this week. Not only is she trying to become the fastest 400-meter sprinter in Alabama, but she's also trying to reclaim her number one spot in the country.
"It's really nice to be ranked number one, but to lose that spot and then want to take it back, I think is a great thing for her. We've had the goal of her breaking 54 seconds, but now she knows the time that is ranked number one and she wants to get under that so I just don't think breaking 54 is enough, I think she wants that number one spot," said Oak Mountain track coach Riley White.
Payne is currently ranked third in the country, but is just three tenths of a second away from that number one spot. Her focus this week has been on her form.
"My form is the most important thing I think coming through the 300 meter mark the last 100 is a lot about form and that's just one of the important things you need to have finishing a race," Payne added.
Payne will race the 400-meter dash Saturday in class 7A.