WHEELERSBURG — When Libby Miller, Alyssa Dingus, Lauren Jolly and Lani Irwin realized what they had accomplished, time kind of stood still.
The Wheelersburg track quartet had just finished running the 4×200-meter relay, Thursday during the Southern Ohio Conference Meet at Minford High School and, according to Miller, Irwin was the first to recognize a peculiarity.
“As soon as we got done running, we always go over to coach [Todd] Ruby and coach [Paul] Boll to see splits and overall time. So when we went over there, we had a really low time and Lani said it was lower than the record,” Miller recalled. “Coach Boll looked it up and, as soon as we realized, we all started hugging and running to tell our other members of the relay that hadn’t made it over yet. It was a great feeling.”
Miller, Irwin, Dingus and Jolly had broken both the school and conference’s record time by finishing the relay in 1:47.62, obliterating the SOC’s previous mark of 1:50.90, set in 1982.
“I can’t quite explain the feeling, actually. All I know is that when we all found out, we just started jumping around,” Irwin said. “I don’t want to say it felt like the weight was lifted off our shoulders because we aren’t finished yet. There’s a possibility for us to break that record again.”
The group, minus Dingus, has felt that feeling once before. Last season, they broke the school’s 4×100-meter relay record. But this go-around felt a bit more special after a mishap last spring.
“The team that broke the record last year in the 4×100 is the same except for Alyssa, so being able to share something so special with her as well is so fun and exciting,” Miller said. “ The thing that is so special about the 4×200 was that it was our big relay last year, even though the 4×100 ended up being the successful one. We had a slip-up last year at districts in the 4×200, which ended the season. So being able to take this race as far as possible this year, and make up for it, is so special to us.”
Miller, a senior, has one more postseason left while Dingus and Irwin are juniors. Jolly, a sophomore, is the youngest in the group. All have at least one common trait: the will to win.
“My favorite part about my relay team is that we have absolutely no quit. We are all so determined and we come in and do the work and always go 100 percent all the time,” Irwin said. “I think that shows, given that we broke another record. I’m proud of the girls I run with and I wouldn’t wish for the team to change. We look to each other for support. I think it’s pretty cool that we’re able to ask each other for help.”
All four are strong in the event in an overall sense. But each brings a different skillset to the table, acting as a different part to a machine that keeps churning out success.
“Each of us contribute in different ways. Lauren, our first leg, is the best out of the blocks, which allows us to build a lead quickly. Alyssa, the second leg, is a cannon. She has the most endurance out of all of us and she builds the lead even more,” Irwin said. “I am the third leg and all I try to do is keep the lead and maybe even extend it more. Libby, our last leg, has a strong finish. She’s worked on running through the line and it’s benefited her. We all have this competitive nature that enables us to run like it’s the last time we ever will.”
Wit that competitive fire steering the group towards success, the season is far from over. The relay’s next task will be tackling the Division III District Championships on May 18.
They’ll use last year’s setback for motivation at that level, and further down the line.
“I have super high hopes for this race and I only see us getting better at it. As competition gets tougher, our team seems to get stronger,” Miller said. “I’m surrounded with very competitive and athletic girls, so I’m very excited to see where we can go. We are going to work to make handoffs as perfect as we can get them and will keep training to get split times down for everyone. I’m super excited to see where it takes us.”
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