Highs and lows hit the Daniel Boone High School girls' track 400 meter relay foursome in a matter of two days at the state championships this past weekend on May 23 and 24. One record setting performance and one disappointment filled the weekend with mixed emotions at Shippensburg University.The team is made up of Dayna Singletary, Mia Rhodes, Alyse Lewis (a first year track athlete) and Aubrie McAlpine, the lone senior. The team of three juniors and one senior first had to overcome odds stacked against them in the District 3-AAA meet at Shippensburg the weekend before to even advance to the state meet.
These four girls have an excellent relationship and it is an important aspect that makes them work better as a team.
"Teamwork and wanting to do something special for Aubrie, since she was the only senior makes this team what it is," said Anthony Greene, the relay coach for Daniel Boone.
All four of the girls run the 100 meters and 200 meters for the Daniel Boone girls' track team and Singletary also does the long jump. This individual aspect of the sport comes together for these four girls in the form of the 400 meter relay.
The relay team came into the district event with two of the four runners injured, as Singletary and McAlpine had hamstring injuries. The goal set by Greene, who is also the Daniel Boone boys' track team's head coach, was to finish in the top five, but not sustain any further injuries.
"I knew they were a two seed in the district and could run a time to be good enough for states or be in the top five to advance that way," Greene said. Singletary actually injured her hamstring earlier in the district meet running the 200 meter dash.
The team did not only finish in the top five, they won the race in a time of 49.81 seconds even with the injuries. Once the injured McAlpine received the last baton hand-off from Lewis, the team was neck-and-neck for the lead. McAlpine did the rest even with her hamstring injury.
"I could see the person next to me and saw we could get first, so I didn't think about my leg and just accelerated. I got the baton and went," McAlpine said.
Greene was left pleasantly surprised with the win. He was almost speechless after the girls pulled it out even though he told McAlpine only to try to stay in the top five before the race began.
"I was shocked when she won. It was impressive, she is a trooper and pulled that one through," Greene said.
With this courageous effort the girls were headed back to Shippensburg for the state meet. The state meet was the first for Singletary, Rhodes and Lewis, and the second for McAlpine.
Before they could compete for a state championship however, they would have to get through the preliminary round on Friday, May 23.
"It was nerve-racking because we had to qualify in preliminaries," said Lewis. The girls came into the state meet as the 12th seed and only eight would advance to the finals on Saturday.
Greene set the strategy of the race for the girls. He told them to keep an eye on their closest competitors. These were Upper Darby, North Penn and McCaskey.
"I told them to keep an eye on them, and try to win it, or at least stay as close as possible to the winner," Greene said. The closer they finish to the winner, the better chance they would have to advance into the finals by having a time in the top eight.
Upper Darby won the race, but Daniel Boone's girls came across the line in second.
With their backs against the wall once again, the foursome ran their fastest time of the year. In doing so they set a new Berks County record with a time of 48.75 seconds. The previous record which was set by Reading High School in 1981 was actually broken by Holy Name with a time of 48.85 seconds earlier in the day.
"When the girls saw the time, they didn't think they had the county record, they just thought they broke the school record. But they found it out later that night," Greene said.
The girls were ecstatic to advance to the finals and also pleased with the new county record.
"We were happy, especially since Holy Name just beat it (the record) earlier in the day," McAlpine said.
Many people would agree with Lewis when she said she thought it was weird the Reading High School record stood for 27 years, but was broken twice in one day.
Heading into the finals the pressure built even more on the girls.
"There was so much pressure in this meet," Rhodes said. Singletary added that the competition at the state event was definitely the toughest of the season.
McAlpine illustrated this by saying that they were looking at all the times of the teams and they could not believe how close together all of them were.
The girls remained confident though in their ability on the track. They were ready to ride their wave of momentum into the state finals. Unfortunately for the girls the weekend turned disappointing after the finish to the race on Saturday. They came out with their heads held high and a lot to be proud of though.
Greene told the story of the state final like this.
"I couldn't see the hand off, but Dayna ran great, maybe her best all year. But Mia never came into view from behind the medical tent (which was blocking his view of the handoff)," Greene said. "Alyse ran up the track so I knew something was wrong."
The hand off he was talking about was the first of the three in the race and was between Singletary and Rhodes. Rhodes said the two got their feet tangled. Rhodes went to the ground and dropped the baton, and the championship race was over for the Daniel Boone team. Rhodes was taken to Chambersburg Hospital where they took x-rays. Fortunately, the x-ray only showed bruising.
This could have occurred because Singletary, like Greene mentioned, was running her best race of the year and came in faster than she had all year throwing the timing off just a little bit between her and Rhodes.
"I must have been in the low 12 second range because I was winning at the time of the hand off," Singletary said.
The girls have nothing to be ashamed of as they had an outstanding year.
"I told them to keep their heads up. They have a lot to be proud of and that I'm proud of them," Greene said.
Singletary, Rhodes and Lewis will be back competing for the Daniel Boone girls' track team next year as seniors. McAlpine will be off to James Madison to compete on the track team there.
"We will see if they can find a fourth girl and make it back to states," Greene said.
If they can find someone as good as McAlpine, the girls should have no problem doing this. Lewis now has her first season of track under her belt and the girls have the state championship experience of this year to lean on when times get tough.
Singletary wants to be able to jell as a team next year and make it back to the state meet, and Rhodes has similar plans for the Daniel Boone 400 meter relay team.
"I want to do just as well as this year and get farther," Rhodes said.