The Shawnee Mission East track team qualifiers returned from their annual trip to the University of Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kansas on April 18 with several new personal records set and two medals to compliment the two places earned by East runners.
The qualifying runners of the 2015 season included seniors Phoebe Aguiar, Erik Harken, Kaycee Mayfield, Theresa McAlister, George Miller and Will Moore. Junior Lance Meng, and sophomores John Arnspiger, Will Clough, Hope Dunn and Jack Young also qualified.
As the runners look back at the meet they see how they competed both as a team, as well as individually. They compare their previous races to the new personal records they set during the Relays. The runners also reminisce on the rushed schedule and the team bonding and memories they made throughout the meet.
This meet has hundreds of more schools than a regular East track meet. According to Erik Harken, the competition field is very vigorous and competitive compared to meets inside districts.
“This is one of, if not the hardest meets we run in all year,” Harken said. “We only had a few medals awarded to us because the field was so tough, but to us it was more about competing with great schools making memories with our team and with the teams around us.”
The KU Relays are a high school and college meet that allows students to compete with many of the best schools all over the Midwest. All schools’ teams, relay teams or individuals must have a qualifying time to be allowed to run in this meet as well as meet the distance criteria.
“You have to qualify as either an individual or a team to run in the meet,” senior Will Moore said. “And there are schools from Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, and most of the Midwest.”
In the past this meet has been run over a span of two days, beginning Friday morning and ending on Saturday evening. However, due to poor weather, the relays were all ran entirely on Friday making the meet much more rushed. The first race began at 10 a.m. and the final relay was finished at 12 p.m. Not only did the time crunch add pressure to the runners, but wore them down and tired them out after a full day in the beating sun. To many runners this was the cause of not performing their best at the meet.
According to varsity runner Lance Meng, the team placed in the top third of their races. They also made many new memories as a team.
“We had a lot of new personal records from all the runners but most of the memories we made were waiting around for our races in the tents,” Meng said. “After the 4×8 we had been there for like 17 hours or something crazy. We ran down the back path behind [the stadium] and into the woods. It was just really fun to be there with all of them.”
Moore was also proud of how the East team performed during the meet. Moore ran in 4×8, 4xmile and the distance medley relay. Aside from setting several personal records for himself, the team as a whole placed well throughout the meet in both their relays and individual races.
“We placed consistently in the top third of the schools in the field,” Moore said. “So it was a good meet for the team and for me to end my final KU Relay with.”
Sophomore Jack Young participated in his first KU Relay, running in the boys distance medley relay, participating in the 800 meter leg as well as the 4×800 meter relay. Young remembers the competitive races just as much as the time spent in the tent waiting for the meet.
“We all just sit around and hang out and eat while we wait,” Young said. “We all mess around and make jokes and grow as a team.”
The Kansas Relays give top high school and college athletes a chance to see how they stand compared to other competitive schools. For the seniors specifically, this meet provides a glimpse of what college running will be like and what preparations they must make for the coming year.
“The Kansas Relays are and have been a meet the entire team looks forward to qualifying for every season.” Harken said, “They allow students to see and compete with some of the fastest students in the midwest, watch college athletes race to show what they must prepare for and provides team bonding and memories within each team with fellow schools.”