Springers foursome sixth-best in nation
Post Independent Sports Editor
There’s nothing like a little competition to bring out the best performances.
The Glenwood Springers track club doubled the number of All-Americans in the history of the program Wednesday with a sixth-place finish by the 4×800-meter youth girls team at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships in Indianapolis.
It was a finish, it should be noted, that saw each member of the team ” Melissa Buchanan, Meg Waibel, Gretchen Herb and Katrina Selsor ” equal or exceed personal-best split times in the event.
“It was fantastic to watch. I can’t wait until these kids realize the accomplishment they just made against the best runners in the country,” said coach Blake Risner, who was on a cell phone with the “bunch of squirrelly kids” who were running around an Indianapolis store playing with parrots and enjoying their summer vacation.
But the team was all business on the track.
Prior to each meet Risner gives the relay team a goal ” sometimes a seemingly unreachable goal. The goal for Wednesday was a time of 9 minutes, 58 seconds. The foursome’s best time of the season to date was 10:23, and the team voiced some doubt about coming close to 10 minutes.
They didn’t hit the 9:58 mark, but they came close enough to finish in the top eight required to earn All-America status with a 10:01.16 mark.
Not bad for a team ranked 11th coming in and going up against big-city track clubs from places like Washington, D.C., and Houston.
Buchanan led off the team and was in last place in the 12-team heat after the first 400 meters. The second 400 of her leg was a different story.
“Melissa was running on pace, but came through the first 400 in last place,” Risner said. “After the first lap, she slowly started picking off girls one at a time. With 100 meters to go she picked it up and put on an incredible kick and handed off the baton in second place.”
Her 2:24 split equaled her personal best.
Not to be outdone, Waibel and Herb cut four and three seconds, respectively, off their personal best marks.
Selsor, who claimed All-America status for the second time, wrapped up the run three seconds better than her best, holding off the Kansas Flyers, who came in seventh, less than 2 seconds behind the Springers. The D.C. Redwings won the race with a time of 9:30.24.
“It’s just a great way to get things started,” Risner said. “We had high expectations for these girls, and they seemed to go out and surpass them. It’s just amazing to go out and do the things they’ve done.”
The Springers aren’t done yet, however.
Buchanan runs in the youth girls 800 preliminaries today, and her brother, Ryan, competes in the midget boys 800 prelims. The finals for both events are Saturday.
Rachel Orosz starts her shot put competition in the bantam girls division on Friday.
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