After placing 10th overall last year in the 4x800-meter relay at the state tournament, Woodward-Granger was back at it Thursday, May 16 to give that 2018 group a run for its money.
With Katelyn Peters graduating last year, that left W-G with three-fourths of the same team intact. Emma Drake, Anna Tague, and Ava Petersen all returned, adding Josie Noland to the fold this season. Without Peters, who qualified for the 1500 last year, the group faced an uphill battle to reach the same high point in 2019.
The group came into the event seeded fourth, dropping down a number of slots after falling down to a time of 10:05.95. That was three seconds below W-G’s qualifying time.
Whether it was the heat or the change of time running the event as opposed to later afternoon in 2018, W-G girls coach Troy Martin said he was more than proud of the team.
“We were hoping to run faster than we ran last at districts but it didn’t pan out that way. Maybe part of it can be that we haven’t had the experience of running in heat like this but neither has anybody else,” Martin added. “So we can blame other things. We just didn’t run our fastest today, but I’m super proud of the girls even though the time today wasn’t their best time of the year. They have proven over the course of the year with the work they put in, and the time that they have, they definitely deserve to be here. And anytime the season ends on the blue track, it’s a pretty good season.
In 2019, the bar was set to 10:15.26 as the 21st ranked team. Despite Tague keeping up with the gaggle of runners out of the gate as the group’s leadoff, the Hawks stumbled to a finish of 10:58.92 to much surprise.
“It was [Anna’s] best time of the year in a split,” Martin said, estimating her at a rough time of 2:28.
Had the whole group kept that pace, the Hawks would have cruised to an easy PR at under 10 minutes, likely grabbing sixth place. Martin also said he was happy with how Noland got out of the gate without an issue at the handoff, keeping a good pace that Tague first set.
Noting the faster set of competition they were up against, Martin said that despite his group’s effort, there was too much separation by the time Petersen took hold of the baton.
“She tried to go out and catch up again,” he said. “They were way faster than she has gone against all year. But she had to do it to try and get back in the race and it didn’t pay off but she fought to the end.”
With Drake as the anchor and the end out of sight, it turned into a warm-up run for her as she’ll be returning to Drake on Saturday for the individual 800 run. In control of the last two laps, she was able to set her own tempo and speed to get a feel for the same track she’ll be on this weekend.
Drake enters Saturday as the 14th seed in the event with a qualifying time of 2:27.11. This will be her first individual event in the state tournament.