LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kearney (Neb.) Bearcats made a point of knowing what the boys’ 4-mile relay record was heading into the KU Relays. They also knew taking down the 2005 record of 18:04.21 run by Fort Collins, Colo., would be a challenge, but that didn’t stop them from discussing how they were going to do it on the drive to Lawrence, Kan.
A mere 18:02.82 minutes later and the Bearcats owned the new record.
Nolan Zimmer took over the lead on the third leg after Shawnee Mission West (Kan.) and Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.) set the pace through the first half of the race.
“I wanted to run as much of my normal pace as possible, but at the same time reel them in,” said Zimmer, who made up about 75 meters through the first two laps. “I don’t think I looked anywhere the entire time except those two guys’ backs.”
Senior Jacob Olson took the baton on the anchor leg and continued to extend the Bearcats’ lead. He still had the record in mind, but it wasn’t until he heard the PA announcer that Olson knew he had a legitimate shot.
“I didn’t know how close we were until with 200 left the announcer said, ‘If he runs this in under 35 he can get the meet record,’” said Olson, who found an extra gear for the final kick to the finish line. “It was pretty much me out there running my pace, so I guess I’m alright with that.”
Rock Bridge captured second in 18:19.17. Rockhurst (Mo.) ran a school-record time of 18:31.64 for third, and then anchor Zach Herriott came back and won the 3,200-meter run in a season-best 9:17.15.
The girls’ 3,200-meter run had a spark of drama when Blue Springs South (Mo.) senior Samantha Nightingale and Rogers (Ark.) junior Maggie Montoya traded some paint on the final curve before Nightingale pulled away for the third-fastest meet time of 10:33.55. Montoya was second in 10:36.65.
“I accidently clipped her, and when I went around her I said, ‘Sorry,’ and she didn’t like it,” Nightingale said. “I was on the inside of the lane and she kept leaning (in), and elbows were flowing; it was not good. The times were good, but I feel really bad.”
Montoya, a multi-state champion in Arkansas, said she slowed on the back stretch to allow Nightingale to block the wind. Then the contact happened as she tried to regain her place up front.
“I was trying to get around her, and she cut me off and it caused me to take a shuffle step,” Montoya said. “I lost the rhythm of my cadence, and it threw me off.”
It was a nine-second PR for Montoya in only her sixth time running the event.
The Lee’s Summit West girls have staked their claim on the 4-mile relay, winning the event at KU for the fourth consecutive year. Although they did not eclipse the meet record (21:17.74) they set last year, the Titans still powered from an early deficit to win by more than six seconds with a 21:35.54.
“We were hoping to get (the record), but that’s OK,” Titan anchor Kiersten West said. “I love the mile, and it’s really cool being able to do a relay with it.”
Shawnee Mission West (Kan.) staked an early lead behind Alli Cash, the defending 6A cross country champion, who turned in a split of 4:52.
Lee’s Summit West also won the girls’ distance medley relay in 12:33.75. It was the same group of sophomores from the 4-mile relay except for 400-meter runner sophomore Jamie Newsome, who blew open the medley on the second leg.
Lockhart (Texas) took a week off from its state championship season to run the KU Relays. Nate Moore, who is committed to the University of Texas, ran a relaxed anchor on the distance medley relay to give the Lions the relay title in 10:32.52.
Moore returned to the track two hours later and easily won the 2,000-meter steeplechase in 6:24.60. Moore recently posted a 5:56.59 to set the Texas Relays meet record and move atop the leaderboard for the fastest prep mark in the country this season.
“I was tired from the DMR earlier, so I wasn’t quite all there. Normally, it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but because you’re jumping over the barriers, it’s a lot tougher and tires you out a lot more,” said Moore, who said he taught himself how to clear the water barrier by watching instructional videos on the internet.
It wasn’t all about the finals during Friday’s opening day of the KU Relays. Grandview (Mo.) senior Dapo Akinmoladun rolled to 13.97 in his preliminary heat of the 110-meter hurdles. That is the fastest time in Missouri this spring and was within .05 seconds of the meet record set in 2005. Akinmoladun was the Class 3 state runner-up last year to John Burrough’s Ezekiel Elliot, who ran a 14.46 in his heat Friday.
Elliott came back and won the 300-meter hurdle head-to-head showdown 38.60 to 38.66, which will only further fuel the 110 finals on Saturday.
Margaret Bamgbose, a senior from Evanston Township (Ill.) set a meet record in the 300 hurdles with a 42.35, erasing the 12-year-old mark of 43.05.
“I just wanted to sprint between the hurdles and have a good finish,” Bamgbose said. “To the first hurdle is always tricky, especially with the wind. For me, usually when the first hurdle is on my second one is off, and if the first one’s off the second one is on.”