Toni Englund, an East alumni and University of Kansas freshman, participated in the heptathlon at the Kansas Relays on April 17-18. It was the first time Englund competed with the KU track and field team.
Englund placed first overall with a score of 4769, beating the second place athlete by just one point. In each sub-event, Englund placed top five in all but two of her events.
The Kansas Relays are held at the University of Kansas and last three days, April 17-19. Top athletes across the U.S. come to compete in the relays.
The relays have many different events happening simultaneously, one of them being heptathlon — a track and field event contest that is comprised of seven different events, lasting two days. The heptathlon started at 10:30 am and lasted until 3 pm.
On the first day of the heptathlon, there are four events – 100 hurdles, high jump, shot put and the 200-meter run. According to Englund, the athletes have about 30-40 minutes in between each event. Then on day two, there are three events – long jump, javelin, and the 800-meter run.
According to Englund’s coach and trainer, they worked to ensure that the runners were all healthy before they participated in the two-day heptathlon.
Each athlete was weighed before and after the heptathlon, to make sure they were staying hydrated and not losing too much weight. Each athlete was also required to get muscle gel, which the trainer would massage on their legs to help prevent sore muscles.
For Englund, most of the intense treatment came between the two days of the competition.
“Most people are super sore after they compete in the four events in the first day,” Englund said. “You’re going to be sore you need to do everything you can to get your body to be close to 100% for day two.”
Around this time last year, Englund participated in the KU Relays with SME’s track and field team. It was there that she caught the eye of the KU track and field coach.
“It was already late enough in the season that all the scholarships for senior athletes had gone out at that point,” Englund said, “So he couldn’t offer me [a] scholarship at that point, but it was kind of like a walk-on.”
However, Englund’s walk-on experience was much different than other athletes who walked on because she was a preferred walk-on. By the time walk-on tryouts began for track and field, Englund had been practicing with the team for a month and a half.
With only one year of high school track under her belt, Englund managed to secure a spot on KU’s track and field team.
“It’s all thanks to Stallard the AP Gov. teacher, and Coach Stefan. [They] encouraged me to try out for track,” Englund said, “They had [both] seen me in my other sports. Stefan knew me from basketball but Stallard was looking at me from my jumping abilities based on dance.”