Track 2019 Race Blog
Friday, March 15, 2019
I love Carthage, and I look forward to it every year. There is something about the atmosphere of this meet that seems to bring out great races in our crew. Is it because it's a college campus? Or the big crowds? Or the sweet 200 meter track? I don't really care if it's a conspiracy among all three--I just enjoy the outcome! Carthage 2019 lived up to the hype, and I'm excited to share how I saw it.
First, Maya B. and Jenna showed courage with their efforts in the high jump. Although neither has had a chance to practice this event at home, they were both game for experimenting at the meet. Coach White told me he was so proud of their coachability; he said that they both learned a lot and will continue to improve as we move outdoors. Mindset-wise, I am so impressed with these two and cannot wait to see them compete outdoors! :)
Our track efforts started with our 4X800 running beyond my expectations. I seeded us 12:03, and we finished in 11:56! Kaila was our lead-leg again, and she continues to grow into that role. Leading off requires confidence and patience as the pace is usually hot, and the close pack requires some negotiating. She got out well and did not let the pace intimidate her; unfortunately, the 37 for the first two hundred definitely made her pay in the second half. I was stoked to see a 78 for her first 400, though. That kind of aggressive pacing is necessary for her to run the kind of times I know she will be running when we get outdoors. As she pointed out to me post-race, her splits are getting closer, and she is improving with every race. Her 2:51 (37, 41, 45, 48) is a big improvement over Highland Park; more importantly, her racing was strong! Mary was our second leg, and she matched Kaila's split time, but she did it a bit more evenly: 39, 42, 45, 45. Kaila's unevenness not surprising because the hype of the start of the race tends to provoke faster openings. Mary's consistency is important as second leg because it allows us to stay in the race! Mary did a nice job of using the people around her to push, and she handed off to Aubrianna in a great spot. Like at Highland Park, Aubrianna got out hard. I love that aggressiveness, but she paid the price in her third lap: 36, 51, 1:02, 52. The good news is that she pushed to kick in the last lap. As she gains more experience, she will learn to spread her energy more evenly across her race. The other good news is that she matched her LPR from last week, finishing in 3:12. She handed off to Carmenita who ran a new season PR of 3:02. Like Mary, she ran a pretty even race: 41, 43, 49, 49. I love that she dropped so much time from last week, and I loved the look on her face during the whole race: that Carmenita beast-mode look. I know she will drop into the 2s as soon as we get outside. Overall, this group looked focused and competitive!
Our next race was the mile, and Vic was up first. Her season PR was last week at Highland Park--a solid 6:31. I seeded her at 6:25 because I figured that just the better track alone would give her some time to drop. Vic seized this opportunity to run near her lifetime PR and drop some considerable time. She ran a pretty even race: 42, 46, 49, 48, 49, 49, 50, 45. More importantly, she really used the people around her to really race. I am excited to see that zesty 45 for the last 200, but that second-to-last lap needs to be the focus when we get outdoors. We will definitely work on kicking from the 300 in the next two weeks. In the meantime, I am really excited by this race because Vic looked sharp to finish in 6:18. Jayla was in the following heat, and she was even sharper than the previous week when she set an LPR of 7:08. From the start, she was engaged in the race, working with the pack and then some individuals in order to keep her lap times pretty consistent: 43, 48, 51, 52, 56, 55, 56, 51. Much like Vic, that second-to-last lap (the start of the last 400) also needs attention, but I cannot complain about a NEW LPR of 6:52! That's a 16 second drop! The time is impressive, but the confidence on Jayla's face makes me momentarily think ahead to her senior XC season. Confidence leads to stronger workouts and better racing. Honestly, I cannot wait to see these two outdoors!
The 800 was next, and all three of our bees were in the same heat. Elyssa, Steff, and Emily seized that ZB opportunity and worked so well together in the early stages of the race. Elyssa broke away late in the second lap (41, 44, 49, 49) to be our first finisher. It is so exciting to watch her confidence grow as a racer, and I was stoked about her new LPR of 3:03. Like Carm, I know she will dip into the 2s as soon as we get outside. What made this time happen was her ability to work with her teammates, but also her confidence to break away when she felt good. Use her as an example for future races; never be afraid to take off and bring your teammates with you! Steff was our second finisher (41, 47, 53, 51) in 3:12. Although I know the time was not quite what she wanted, she reached the goal I was hoping for: that she would be able to set aside her hip pain to race again like the beast I know she can be. She looked sharp in the first lap, and worked with Emily smartly in the second. An 88 for the first 400 is solid, and her arm swing looked strong for this part of the race. Like most people in the 800, her 3rd 200 was her slowest, but she did a great job of driving forward in her last 200 to kick. This race represents a starting point that is ahead of where she was last year. It also shows that she believes in her words that she shared with the team this week during Thought of the Day. I'm so proud of her grit throughout the last year, as well as her leadership. This race was an important milestone in her growth! Nice work, Steff! Emily was our final racer in the 800. Much like Steff, Emily has been on a journey since freshman year, and I was so stoked to see her racing again. her splits were a bit uneven (41, 48, 58, 54). I know that will change as she gets more racing experience--this was her first race on the track as a ZB! On Saturday when we discussed her race, she shared that her plan is to work on her mental game in the next race. She has come so far already, and I cannot wait to see her race outside! Overall, this trio looked great, and I am proud of their hard work; I also thank them for their patience since I sent them to warm up far too early. #mybad
Karen and Di had a LONG wait for their 3200 race, but it was certainly worth it! They were in the same heat, and they started strong with each other in this 16-lap race. Prior to the race, Karen was worried about her seed time, which is a fun throwback to last year when she ran this same race for the first time as a freshie. Back then, she thought she could run around 17, and she was very concerned that I had seeded her at 14:59. Last year, she rose to the occasion, and this year was no different. She smartly rolled with the pack for a while until it dissolved; she then worked with two Grayslake Central girls, creating at least 8 different lead changes within their small pack. That allowed Karen to run a strong middle race: 44, 49, 51, 52, 54, 54, 56, 57, 57, 59, 60, 61, 60, 57, 56, 49). What I loved the most was that she came through the mile in 6:57 (a time close to what she ran for just a mile last week at HP), and used that success to work hard in the second half of the race. Her final kick was great, and the race overall was impressive because she looked engaged and enthusiastic the whole way. It was great to have Karen "back." She finished in 14:36, a 21 second improvement over her time from last year at Carthage. Di has not run the 3200 since her sophomore year, but she came to compete today! She ran a pretty consistent race: 45, 51, 56, 59, 60, 61, 61, 64, 61, 64, 65, 64, 63, 66, 64, 56). Although she was in "no woman's land" for parts of the race, Di did not let that deter her from racing hard. She was very coachable, surging when I asked and using the energy of her teammates to help her stay focused. She also used the pack as it came up on her to rejuvenate her pace (look at at laps 9 and 13). I am really proud of her mindset both within the race and after. When we talked right after her race, she replied that she wanted to try it again to improve; what more could a coach ask for?
Overall, I am extremely proud of our team. Different squads celebrated others' achievements, and everyone was learning from other races. It was really fun to watch! Some other highlights from the day include both Maesa and Becca setting new LPRs in the shot; shout out to Maesa for placing 8th overall in the meet. That's quite an accomplishment! V looked strong and threw much better than the week before. It's exciting to think about how they will do in disc as we head outside. Our jumpers continue to improve as well. Mariah jumped an LPR in the long and is now in the 14s; she also beasted the open 200~, along with Shaunicy and Saudi who set PRs! Mora set an SPR in the triple jump, placing 4th and looked strong in the long jump, as well as in the 4X200. A strong day's work, indeed! Marissa had a strong 400, setting a new LPR of 69. Kaylah ran a 66 in the open, and Maya H. blew away her heat when she dropped a 62. What is most impressive about these two is that they came back to run amazing times in the 4X400. Aja started us strong with a beautiful split of 65. She handed off to Cierra who looked awesome in 65 as well, working up to the competition. Maya dropped an aggressive 64 and gave the baton to Kaylah who also dropped a 64. This group continues to improve, and they are simply EXCITING to watch. Let's keep growing TOGETHER as ONE TEAM. We have two weeks to get in some serious work. Take care of grades, take care of sleep, take care of nutrition, take care of one another. I cannot wait for outdoor!
Friday Night Relays
Friday's races left me ecstatic. Not only did we have great effort across the board, but we are starting to come together as a team. Not a bad combo for a Friday night.
We started the evening strong with Jenna taking a risk in the high jump. Although she did not clear the opening height, her enthusiasm for trying this event without much prep due to our lack of indoor space continues to amaze me. That selflessness and courage is what makes teams great! I look forward to seeing her jump at Carthage! Jenna was our anchor in the Mid-Distance Medley, running an awkward distance of 640 as the anchor of the relay. The time didn't mean much because of the weird distance, but her performance was strong.
Our 4X800 Looked solid today. Kaila started us with a strong leg, breaking 3:00 for the first time this season. Her first 400 was aggressive (82), and she closed in a 95. More importantly, she looked competitive the whole way, and she finished in 2:57. She handed off to Elyssa who ran 3:09 (89/1:40). Elyssa looked really tuned in for the first 400 and last lap, but she seemed distracted for two laps. Post race, she explained that she was not in the right headspace; interestingly, that says a lot about her fitness that she was on-par with her performance at Wheeling. I know that she learned an important lesson about mindset, and I look forward to seeing her race again soon. Delilah was our third leg in her track racing debut! Unfortunately, I was distracted by a parent and did not get her 400 splits, but she ran a strong 3:19 for her first race ever. I know that she will cut time as the season progresses, and I'm impressed with her performance considering how sick she was on Saturday morning. Ashley was our final leg. Her split of 3:39 was solid for this time of year, and her splits (99/2:00) underscore what she said post race: that like Elyssa, her mind was not in the right spot. That being said, she looked smooth and she had a nice kick at the end. On Saturday morning, she had a great long run, keeping up with Elyssa's pack and feeling strong. That kind of comeback is what I love--not satisfied with her performance the day before, she stepped up to work hard the next day! Overall, this group was honest and hard-working, and I could not ask for more.
Carmen was the senior leg of the Class 4X400. Latavia was our freshie rep, and ran a speedy 79 on the tight turns. Julien was second in 81. Jada was our junior in 78, and Carmenita matched Jada with a 78 as well. More importantly, as the veteran, Carmen was a calming influence for this group. Nice work, Carmen!
The Distance Medley was up next, and all four looked speedy. Angie started us strong, running three laps in 1:38, coming through the 400 in 80. She was aggressive and handed off to Aubrianna in good position. Our little freshie looked focused and aggressive, finishing in a strong 3:12 for the 800. She looked great earlier in the week in our workout, so I was excited to see that translate to a race. Nice work, Aubrianna! She handed off to Di who had to run the other awkward distance...not quite a 1200 (1120). She had a solid 3:44 for the half and finished in 5:17. More importantly, she used the competition around her to pull throughout the race. She handed off to Jayla who got out hard, running a 90 for her first 400. With a 400 to go, I could see that she was ready to hit an LPR. Post-race, she admitted that she had zoned out a bit, but hearing the time helped her snap back into the moment. She finished with a speedy lifetime of 7:08, and I know she will be able to drop into the sixes shortly. Proud of the grit from this whole group!
I stacked our 4X1600 relay, and they did not disappoint. Kelsey, despite battling back pain, decided to get one last race before her surgery. I'm really glad she made that choice because her opening leg was fun to watch. She got out smart, letting the competition go for a lap, then working back to them methodically. She opened with an 89, came through the half in 2:51, the 1200 in 4:19, and finished in 5:42. This time was significantly faster than her only other timed mile of the season, an outdoor mile back when there was not as much snow on the track about a month ago. More important than the speedy time, the race was just fun. She systematically picked off competitors with a quiet confidence and handed off the baton in first place. This patience will serve her well as she works to rehab post-surgery. Vic was our second leg, and she looked sharp in her first race of the season, after having missed Wheeling due to illness. Her splits (90, 3:09, 4:53, 6:31) were solid for this time of year. Her racing was what definitely stood out; she used the other competitors to help her push herself to a season PR. Mary was our third leg, and she ran a strong season PR of 6:36 by running splits very similar to Vic's: 88, 3:08, 4:54. Also like Vic, she worked hard to push as competitors came by, and she looked sharp in her kick. Karen was our final leg for the relay. She ran pretty even (96, 3:21, 5:11, 6:56) and held on to earn our relay a 4th place finish. She was a few seconds off her season PR, and I know she will look stronger as she moves to the 3200 at Carthage. Overall, this group was fun to watch because all four looked focused and competitive for their races. Nice work, women!
The final race of the day was the 4X400. While the times were fun, what I enjoyed more was the line of teammate chanting each woman's name. That kind of camaraderie and positive support is what makes good teams great. Aja, Cierra, Maya and Kaylah's performances are the proof! Aja started us strong with a 68. She handed off to Cierra who ran a beautiful 69. Maya looked amazing in her race debut, finishing in a high 67. She handed off to our anchor, Kaylay, who finished with a high 68. Overall, their efforts landed them in 4th, beating teams in the fast heat. I can't wait to see this group run next week at Carthage!
As I drove home, I could not help but think ahead as I contemplated the meet. We have throwers who are improving weekly. The D-Crew keeps showing growth. The sprinters are stronger than they have been in years. Our long and triple jumpers are showing positive gains. People are stepping up to try the high jump. People not racing are lending their voices and energy to support their sisters on the track. Last year, I was optimistic but concerned about the vibe of the team overall. This year, the energy is positive, so I can't help but be excited about Carthage and outdoor. And if I wasn't sure on Friday, the energy of Saturday's practice really had me excited. I am proud of all of you--your work ethic and selflessness is to be applauded. Let's keep the momentum rolling this week!
Here's the latest installment of Fast Women. Check it out to be a student of your sport! Also, in Illinois High School Track News: Katelynne Hart ran 9:58 INDOORS this past weekend! #sick
Saturday, February 23, 2019 @ Wheeling Invite
We started our season strong with a 5th place team finish at the competitive Wheeling Invite. The teams that bested us--Wheeling, Lake Zurich, Warren, and Stevenson--all had medalists in the pole vault, 3200, and hurdles. This illustrates just how competitive we are and will continue to be if we lean in and decide that this is OUR season with ONE TEAM EFFORT. Click here to check out the full results.
The distance crew had a strong day. We started with our 4X800 placing 6th in a strong field. Kelsey was our lead runner. Like last year, she started comfortably fast, and made her moves in the middle laps. She ran a strong 2:35 which is impressive considering how little speed we have been able to do. She handed off to Mary who had an aggressive start despite recovering from illness. Her 2:58 split was right where I hoped she would be, and I'm excited to have her conditioning this early in the season; in years past, she was not able to help us until later in the indoor/beginning of outdoor season due to swimming commitments. I know that Mary will continue to sharpen her racing and look forward to seeing her work toward her season goals. She handed off to Carmenita who got out hot and focused. Due to the weird laps, I did not get 400 splits, but Carm definitely ran hard in her first 400. The key to improving her overall time is to get that second half stronger, which I know she will do! She ran a solid 3:09 before handing off to our anchor, Kaila. In her first high school track race, she looked confident and experienced throughout. Unfortunately, I wasn't loud enough when I told Kaila she was on her last lap, so she still had a little saved in the tank. That being said, Kaila still ran a strong 3:04; I know she can break 3 easily in the next race. Overall, we beat my estimated time by seven seconds, and this quad set a positive tone for track events. Proud of this group!
Our next racers were in the open 800. Elyssa and Angie were in the same heat, and they had great energy with each other during the race. They traded leads from each other in order to push the pace. Elyssa pulled ahead in the latter part of the race, revealing the strength she gained during the XC season. Her kick was strong, and she was rewarded with a season best of 3:10. Angie was not far behind, and she exhibited race-awareness and grit as she fended off a surging competitor in the final steps of the race in a thrilling finish. Angie ran a solid 3:17 and will continue to improve with that impressive mindset! Overall, these two represented us and themselves very well in this race!
Our final distance race of the day was the mile; like their teammates, Karen and Di competed well and fed off each other to race well. The started close to each other, but after 500, Karen started pulling ahead. Karen used her competition to stay sharp, and she earned a huge SPR, finishing in 6:47. When Karen came up on Di, Di responded strongly with a surge. She kept fighting the runners around her, and she also finished with a strong SPR of 7:36. She also exhibited great flexibility when I sprang the racing opportunity on her prior to the bus ride; instead of being intimidated, Di seized the chance to race. I love that mindset!
Overall, I am thoroughly excited about this meet, and I cannot wait for Highland Park! In the meantime, let's be intentional about sleep, nutrition, and practice so we can continue growing as athletes.
This week, I challenge you to sit someplace new in Strickland's room and introduce yourself to sprinters and throwers. Let's make our team bond unbreakable!
FYI--There are a lot of great races going on for the pros right now. Check out this newsletter that highlights races you may have missed! Click here to be a student of your sport.