Eighth-graders find home on record board
It was just a matter of time before Sarah Nielsen, Madison Brandt, Lauren Jaqua and Briana Hall took down the Lansing Middle School record for the 1,600-meter relay.
The foursome chased history all last season and came within 10 seconds of breaking the record of 4:43.20, set in 1993 by Heather VanDyke, Adria Edmonds, Janalin Hittle and Allison Bailiff.
By coming that close as seventh-graders, Sarah, Madison, Lauren and Briana had no doubts their names would find a place on the record board.
They just didn't expect it to happen so soon.
"I thought we would be getting it at the last meet. Not the third," Sarah said.
But three meets was all they needed. In the first meet of the season - April 4 at Piper - they matched their best time from a year ago when they ran a 4:51. They knocked seven seconds off that time April 10 at the Perry Relays when they ran a 4:44.55 and missed the school record by 1.25 seconds.
Thursday at the Lansing Triangular, they shattered the old record by five seconds as they scorched the track in 4:38.93.
"We were 1 second off at our last meet, so we were pumped up," Lauren said of their mindset entering Thursday's meet.
They all agreed that it was extra special to break the record at their only home meet of the season. Friends and family packed the stands and cheered them on as each girl made her lap around the track.
Sarah ran the first leg and asserted control of the race in the first 200 meters. Madison took the second leg and extended the lead. By the time Lauren took the baton to run the third leg, the Lions already boasted a comfortable lead. The race became them against the clock.
LMS distance coach Ron Averill kept the girls on pace by sprinting back and forth across the infield to update the girls on their time. Midway through Lauren's lap, the girls were four seconds ahead of record pace.
Briana ran the anchor leg, and the crowd roared with support as she entered the home stretch and sprinted the final 100 meters. Within seconds of crossing the finish line, the girls learned they'd smashed the old record. Celebration ensued quickly.
"I just want to see our names up there on the board," Briana said.
With the record in hand and four meets remaining on the schedule, the girls said they hope to whittle their time down even more. The next goal is to break 4:30.
"It's more for ourselves and less about beating everyone else," Lauren said.
To put the Lions' record time in perspective, it is worth looking at how the time of 4:38.93 would stack up in high school varsity meets.
As it turns out, the time would have been good enough for sixth place at the Baldwin Invitational on March 31. It also would have been fast enough to place first at the Lansing Invitational and second at the Bobcat Relays. Plus, the last-seeded team invited to the KU Relays had a time of 4:48.