Chardonee’ Wright, Staff Writer:
Time, speed and precision are three key factors that Ashley Bell, junior math major, said helped the women’s outdoor 4×100 meter track relay team break the school record with a time of 46.55 at the Rampao Roadrunner Express Meet in Mahwah, N.J.
“At first I didn’t know we did until I looked online,” said Bell. “It’s a big accomplishment. I never thought we would get to do that, but it’s a big accomplishment.”
Bell, Courtni Walker, Sahnique Castella and Sarah Hill were the four runners on the relay team.
Bell has been running track for three years and said the four fastest sprinters on the team make up the relay team.
“The biggest strategy,” said Bell, “with this particular relay is the hand-off. You can win or you can lose based on how good your hand-off is. That is a big key to it.”
Women’s track and field coach, Christopher Covert, said breaking the school record was just a glimpse into what the outdoor runners can accomplish as the season goes on.
“Every time you break a record, it means a lot and especially to the girls,” said Covert.
Covert said other factors also make a difference during track meets.
“It wasn’t really hot outside, but other indications are when the weather is better, everyone is totally healthy, and we have more people to run with,” he said.
Picking runners for the relay team is based on which athletes can work the most effectively together said Covert, as he described how they are chosen.
“I think it’s a combination of what group works well together,” he said. “Obviously, you want to pick your fastest people. From that point, you figure out what the strength of every person is and I think we do a pretty good job of deciding who goes where.
For sprinter and senior finance major, Courtni Walker, it was the second time she was on a team that had broken a record. During her sophomore year of college, Walker’s team broke the record.
“The first time it was broken, I was on that team,” said Walker. “Then, the team last year broke that record, and I didn’t run on that team because I was hurt, and this year I broke it again.”
Hailing from Long Island, N.Y., Walker said she ran track in high school and is on an athletic scholarship to run for Southern.Walker said she runs track for various reasons.
“I enjoy it a lot,” said Walker. “It relieves stress, it’s fun, and you meet new people.”
Walker also said the “timing” during a relay race is vital for a team to keep in mind.
“You have a zone and you need to be in a zone to receive the baton,” said Walker. “So when the girl’s foot hit that mark, you need to start running and you need to put your hand back, grab the baton, and go.”
Above all else, as athletes, making it to Nationals is what Bell and Walker said they would be honored to achieve.
“My personal goal is to always beat my best time and get faster time wise,” said Bell. “If that isn’t done, then to at least win my race. My overall goal is to always make Nationals.”