A meet record, two school records, and 15 athletes winning 22 medals were the final results of last weekend’s track and field Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship. The team descended several thousand feet to compete in the heat at Texas Lutheran University; it was a very successful meet with several outstanding performances and records.
Seniors Duranya Freeman, Ayla Loper, Samantha Gilbert, and Asmeda Spalding set a new meet record in the 4x400m relay. Smashing the old school record by six seconds (an eternity in the 4x400m relay), the four finished first. “Right before the 4×4 we got in a circle, and Sam told us there was no way she wasn’t leaving everything on the track for us,” Freeman said. “That really got us in the mindset of all or nothing. In the 400, it’s 100 percent adrenaline, and we all were just running on pure guts.”
Spalding echoed this sentiment, as she had been throwing up just minutes before the relay. “The senior relay felt like a dream,” Spalding admitted. “When Ayla cried in my arms, I knew the six years of hell I put my body through was worth it for this moment.”
To prepare for the conference championships, members of the track team train upwards of six days a week in addition to a weight lifting program. “This has been my most committed season, Gilbert noted. “I’ve been doing 100s, 200s, 60s, and dynamic speed work, like cone drills with resistance bands. We’ve been on the track a lot, and I’ve been waiting for that work to show itself in my races.” And last weekend all that hard work came to fruition. Gilbert, who can put up more weight than many grown men, also ran the 4x100m, 200m, and set a new school record in the 100m dash, a record she had been looking to break since last season.
In the distance events, first-year Audrey Nelson persevered through 25 laps to complete her second ever 10k. “I was so nervous that I wasn’t going to perform as well as people expected me to, but as soon as the race started, I zoned in, and the nerves disappeared,” Nelson said. “I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself in a new way this season with the 10K. It’s such a strategic mental game because you have to budget your energy and stay focused for a long time.”
First-year Camille Weaver excelled in the jumping events, taking first in high jump, third in long jump, and fourth in triple jump. According to Weaver, there was a good atmosphere at the meet, especially on the second day. “Everyone was in their zone and focused, which helped me get in my zone,” Weaver said. Weaver anchored the team’s 4×100 relay, where they took third place.
Senior Hailey Hampson, who set a new personal best in the 1500m, also sensed the support from the team. “I loved the team aspect of conference,” Hampson said. “I felt like there was so much support coming from the team and coaches while I was running and throughout the weekend.”
Although many athletes had great performances, they all seemed more impressed by their teammates. “My favorite part about conference was watching the inspiring races that everyone else had,” Hampson said. “I was so amazed at the competitiveness and the willingness to go after a high placement or fast time. I’m so proud of the courage on the team.”
Nelson admitted that she couldn’t have done the 10k without the support of her teammates. “Having them cheer for me lap after lap during such a long race made all the difference. They’re really the coolest teammates someone could ask for.”
The team left Texas sweaty, exhilarated, and decked out in medals. It was a monumental close to the season, though for some, the track season is not quite over. A select few members of the track team are continuing on to the Occidental College Invitational in Los Angeles on May 12.