:) :) :)
There's no other way to start this write up--we did some great work at the meet and then the next day in the time trial. Here's how I saw it:
We started with an incredible effort from our 4X800 squad. Kelsey was our lead runner, and she looked amazing. She started strong and was not afraid to go right with the lead runners of the fast heat. She made some smart moves: rather than get stuck in the tightly bunched pack, she ran on the outside in order to be free on the third lap when the race started to stretch out. She ran a lifetime PR of 2:31 by keeping her splits pretty even (36, 38, 37, 40). Clearly Kelsey has the guts and power to run fast; our spring break workouts as well as early outdoor meets will address that last 200. For now, I am stoked about her effort because I know how much stronger she will become. At the hand off, we were in great shape place-wise, and Julia got out hard, matching Kelsey's opening 200 of 36 seconds. Her splits were in a different pattern: 36-41-42-39. The great news is that she had a gutsy start, and she was able to hammer the last 200 to finish strong for her team. She earned a 2:38, her best indoor time ever! We will work on making her splits more consistent, which I know will come due to her work ethic and vast experience in this race. She handed off to Janelle, who ran a season PR of 2:42. Being in the third slot is tricky because the race tends to string out a bit at this point; Janelle got out strong, but we need to work on her third lap (38-40-43-41), but she did a nice job of dropping her last lap back down. I was excited to see how strong her form looked throughout the race, and I know that her competitiveness will help her get those splits to be more consistent. Maya was our anchor, and she took off strong and staying smooth throughout her race. She ran the most even splits for the day: 37-39-39-39. This kind of race is what is going to get us to continue to drop time. Let's make it that our goal is to have a two-second differential between the first 400 and second 400; Maya did just that with a 76-78. I know that she will continue to get stronger, so her goal is to get each 400 to drop evenly, which I am confident will happen as she gets stronger! Overall, this relay made my day! An overall time of 10:25 is impressive for this time of the season. I cannot wait to see how we look outdoors; I'm proud of all of you for working hard for each other!
Our next runners were in the mile (Wisconsin flips this event with the 3200 in their events order), and they did not disappoint. Steff set a lofty time goal going into this race considering her abridged training due to her conflict with her basement stairs. Although she did not reach her time goal, I was really pleased with her race for two reasons. First, she is thinking big, which is important to running varsity times. Second, she ran a big season PR despite some hip pain during the race. We will work on getting that hip happier as well as straightening out her arms in order to reach her original time goal! Cynthia was in the next heat, and her debut mile in an actual race was outstanding! The highlight was her aggressive racing style. If you ask anyone who watched her race, they will tell you that she hunted other runners down and passed at least one every lap. That kind of racing instinct is why I am so glad that she is with us this spring. It will help her continue to drop time; the 6:36 she earned at Carthage is just the start!
Kelsey was the lone member of the distance crew running in the open 400. Although she was concerned about her seed time of 68, her worries were unfounded. Kelsey got out hard and did a great job beating the masses to the cut line. On the second lap, she made smart use of the back stretch to pass one last competitor. Her finish off the final curve was aggressive, and she finished her heat earning a 68. This kind of speed will serve her well in any race on the track! Great work, Kelsey!
The twins doubled in the open 800 and in the same heat. Although they had plenty of time to recover after the relay, racing two 800s in the same meet is a tough double: I find the 800 to be the toughest race on the track because it requires speed, strength, and nearly perfect race tactics, as there is little time to recover from a bad position. They both got out hard, with Julia leading. The only difference between their lap times was on the second lap, with Julia running a second faster. Janelle kicked hard to try to catch her in the final stretch, and they finished one second apart: 2:43 and 2:44. These times represent solid work for their first double of the season. Not only will this stimulus help make them stronger, but it also shows their strength is moving in the right direction at this point in the season! Knowing their work ethics, I am confident that they will continue to drop time as we head outdoors.
The last open distance race of the day was the 3200. Victoria and Karen had to wait quite a long time to toe the line, but they kept their focus as evidenced by their great races. For the first mile, these two ran nearly identical races, with Victoria leading for the inexperienced but gutsy Karen in 7:02 and 7:03 respectively. At this point, Victoria started to pull away as she challenged several runners around her. She finished in 14:37, making her second mile a 7:35. I know that she will get better at this second half as we head outdoors, especially if she continues to apply the same gutsy race tactics as she did today. Karen, although nervous about this race, ran beautifully. After that courageous first half, she kept grinding in the second mile, keeping it under 8 minutes, unlike her tempo runs in practice. She earned an impressive 14:57 finishing time--well under my estimated 15:20, and well, well under her estimated 16:00. I'm so proud of both of these women for their great races, and I look forward to seeing them improve in this race when we get outdoors.
Our night concluded with an incredible 4X400. I was initially bummed that we were in the third heat, but our girls did not seem to care. Kayla got out hard and looked faster than ever as she took the cut in, battling right along with the other top teams, which earned her a speedy 66 second split. When she handed off to Maya, I was losing my mind! Maya took off more aggressively than she has in the past, going out in a 32 for the first 200. In the second lap, she embodied the phrase "eat" as she gobbled up her competition and giving us a beautiful lead and earning a new lifetime PR of 64! When Shaniah received the stick, she was all smiles, looking beautiful with her long, strong stride. She kept our lead looking strong, and she earned a new PR of 68! She is showed that she really GETS this race now. :) Cierra was our final leg, and she wore a face of determination, running the fastest split of the relay of 62. Our overall time was a NINE second PR: 4:20. To run this fast this early in the season is just awesome. As the weather gets easier and we can get more quality work outdoors, I am confident that this relay will continue to improve. In the meantime, their collective effort earned them a third place finish in the overall results, besting all of the second heat as well as several teams from the fast heat. There is something so beautiful about the 4X400--it brings the team together at the end of the meet, and when it is well run, it gives the team momentum as they climb on the bus. How can you help but be pumped for this week's workouts knowing how much it is paying off?
Overall, I am really excited about the direction of this team. With Jalah winning the shot, Maesa earning a PR by a foot, and Mora earning a PR in the triple, we have some great things happening. We finished 8th as a team, our best finish in quite some time at this meet. I haven't had this much fun since...well, this fall. :) I cannot wait to see this team outdoors. Let's have a great two weeks of focused training!
Shout out to the boys for coming out to cheer us on and special thanks to Taylor for taking impeccable splits for each race!