Last spring, the MJHS girls track and field 4x800 relay team enjoyed a season of great victories, only to place eighth overall in the state championship relay race at Middle Tennessee State University.
This year, the four-girl squad, consisting of seniors Julia Karsten, Alex Houston and Elyse Dutch and junior Jaylen Jenkins, believe themselves to be better prepared and eager to place first at state, as well as beat the current school record for their race.
Winning each relay race of the four meets so far this season, the team has competed unmatched by the schools in MJ’s district. Plus, the girls are once again ranked second in the state of Tennessee for their race.
Karsten says that the difference this year, besides an increase in experience and maturity for the four, is an attitude reinforced by the confidence that they made it far in the competition last year and will without a doubt be able to go even farther now.
“We have become more motivated and encouraging to each other. I believe that positive attitudes are going to help us place well in state,” said Karsten.
The key to success is that each girl pulls her weight by beating her PR (personal record) for the two consecutive laps around the track that she runs in the eight lap relay. This way, the girls focus on doing their best individually so that the overall run time improves.
“We are all striving to run our PR’s in the relay in order to be competitive with the top teams,” said Karsten.
As Karsten said, the “top teams” to look out for this year are talented track and field teams from high schools in East Tennessee like Hardin Valley.
Karsten, however, is not too worried: “Luckily, we will get an opportunity to run against them before the state championship, so we will be able to know exactly what we’re up against.”
Besides winning at state, the girls are also making great efforts to set a new school record for their relay race. In fact, the team is already close, missing the target by just one second at the last meet, but the struggle has only made them more motivated.
“It won’t be easy, but we know that we can break the record this year because of all the hard work we have put in together,” said Karsten.