We had another great night of racing at Highland Park's relay meet. We are really starting to come together as a team, and we are showing a lot of courage in races--it is really exciting to watch!
We started the night with a gutsy performance from our 4X800. Julia started us strong with a 2:49 split (82/87). She looked more in-tuned with the race this week, using the people around her to help improve her time over Wheeling. Janelle was second and ran a 2:50 split (84/86). Like her sister, Janelle looked more race-ready today, with her last lap looking aggressive and with great form. Cynthia was our third leg with an improvement over Wheeling. Not only did she look stronger in the second half of her race, she also had a gritty mindset about her competition. It paid off with a split of 2:56 (85/91). Steff made her racing debut as our anchor, and it is good to have her back! Despite a reduced training load, she looked aggressive and strong, running at 2:59 split (85/94). I know that as she gains more fitness, her second 400 will continue to improve. Overall, I liked the fire of this group; not only did each woman fight for her teammates, but they also all had great kicks.
Our Sprint Medley was next. Aja started us strong with an 11-second split for 80 meters; she handed off to Destini who matched Aja's time. The best moment of this race was how the second half of the relay responded to adversity. Upon receiving the baton, Saudi took off aggressively, but struggled to manage the banked curve and lost her footing. After she fell, she hopped back up and finished her lap with grit. When Cierra received the baton, she could have jogged it in; instead, she caught one team, and was gaining on the next. This "it ain't over until the finish line" mindset will serve us well this season, and it was great to see!
Our Mid-Distance Relay looked strong today, especially since they had to navigate a race-day change of line up. Mora, Jayda, and Shaniah looked great on their respective legs of the race, and Karen finished the relay strong. All of these distances are a bit weird due to the track's 160 distance, so the times don't carry much meaning. What is important is that all four women fought hard for each other!
I am really proud to report that we had a 55 Hurdle Relay compete AND medal. For several years, we have not had a full hurdle squad, but things are changing this year. Kayla, our only true hurdler over the last few years, acted as a mother hen to the three newbees. After minimal training this week, Saudi, Klyde, and Jasmine all stepped up to the challenge of using the race as a learning experience. This whole crew looked outstanding, and I am proud of their growth mindsets for the day. If they can continue growing as a group, we could earn valuable points in these races that we have neglected in the last few years. So impressed by this group!
OUr next race was the class 4X400. Freshie Kaylah with an "H" started us strong with a 73 second split; she looked aggressive the whole way, and her form was impeccable. She will only continue to get strong because she works hard at every practice! Sophie Jada looked awesome, matching Kaylah's time of 73 seconds. She looked like a different runner than last year, and she was all smiles after her performance. I cannot wait to see how she evolves as a racer this season with her new mindset! Carmen was our junior leg and ran a strong 83 split. I know that this time will continue to drop as she continues to gain fitness; her form looked impeccable today! Janelle was our senior leg, running her second race of the day (all the other distance crew focused on just one race). Not only did Janelle keep everyone loose before the race, but her performance also showed her team how to compete, running a 74 second split. Overall, this group looked impressive.
Our Distance Medley consisted of youngins, but they all competed well. Angie started us off with a strong three laps. What impressed me most was that she had calculated a goal time for this awkward distance based upon her performance at Wheeling--I love that mental prep! Her form looked good, and she competed well with those around her. Jenna was our second leg, running her first track race in ZB gear. She looked aggressive and earned a starting-point time of 3:33. She has already improved so much this season; I know that she will drop time soon! She handed off to Charmaine who had an outstanding first half. Not only did her form look outstanding, she also used the people around her to challenge herself. Again, she had a weird distance (7 laps), so her overall time doesn't mean much, but her grit while racing does. She is such a different runner than this fall; she looked assertive and confident throughout. She handed off to Crizaber who looked great, too! Crizaber's start was focused and speedy, clocking a 3:45 and giving her a chance to break 8 for the season. Unfortunately, the second half brought more pain in her arch, a problem she has fought for a year now. Despite that pain, Crizaber fought through, keeping a focused mindset. She finished in 8:10, her fastest mile of the season--nice work! Overall, this group supported one another and raced hard for each other--definitely on theme for this meet!
The 4-Lap Relay was next, and unfortunately, I missed this race because I was getting our milers ready to race. Looking at the times, it seems that our four sprinters--Aja, Destini, Mora, and Saudi--ran consistently, with their splits ending up pretty even (21, 23, 25, 22). I know this group will continue to improve, as we get to better tracks and work on handoffs.
The 4X1600 team had a great night tonight. Kelsey started us off strong with a new lifetime PR of 5:48. Her splits were pretty impressive (2:51/2:57), but more importantly, she raced well with some strong competition. She handed off to Vic who had a great race, too. She was really in tune with the competition, and it helped her to run even splits like Kelsey (3:23/3:29). I can't wait to see what she will do to with that mindset in the two-mile! Elyssa, whose previous best was 7:32, ran a new LPR by racing hard with the competition. Her first half was a speedy 3:27, and closed in 3:47. If she can get the second half more in line with the first, she will break 7 minutes easily. That being said, she had a significant drop today, finishing in 7:14--great work! Our anchor, Alexia, looked incredible today. Not only was she totally tuned into the race, but her confidence level was evident. Her first half was 3:42, and she closed in 3:57 for a pretty even race. This focus helped her run a significant season PR of 7:39--impressive! Overall, I was really happy to watch these four women work hard with the competition to race so well!
We closed the track action with the 4X400. Unfortunately, we were stuck in the slower heat, but our girls were not deterred. Shaniah got out hard, running her best time of the season--71. Maya was our second leg, and she looked focused and at ease. She matched her time from Wheeling (68), and looked awesome doing so! She handed off to Kayla who matched Maya's time of 68 and looked intense the whole way. Cierra closed out our relay with a speedy 64! These four women were racing the clock, and they earned a 3rd place finish overall, besting two relays from the fast heat--nice focus, bees!
In the field events, Jalah won the shot put with her first effort over 40 feet of the season--awesome work! Maesa fed off of Jalah's energy, earning a new PR of 31 feet. Veronica rounded out our throwing squad with her first meet performance ever of 27 feet. Awesome work to this group!
I don't have any info about the jumpers at this time, but I will add to this section when I do!
While I was really stoked about the performances at this meet, I was thrilled to see how you all chose to end the meet: together and smiling. I am hoping that we can continue to grow united as the season progresses, but that requires intentional work. Get to know your teammates. Keep supporting one another. Keep being a positive voice for the newbees. Keep the optimism coming!