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Going the extra distance: what it took for one 4×8 relay to break school record

Ruby Lueras, Bear Facts Contributor

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Photo used with permission by Jillian Baffa

For 18 years, the Girls Track and Field school record for the 4×8 relay has held strong at a 9:46.8. That was until senior Jessie Houghton, juniors Emily Burns and Jillian Baffa, and freshman Hayley Burk came along. At the Lake County Championships on April 26 the girls finished their race with a time of 9:43 (they later ran a 9:40 at sectionals).

They attribute part of their success to the new coaching management of this year.  

“I really think that having [new head coach Jeremy] Kauffman as a coach is the entire reason why we’re here. For example, last year we ran this 4×8 with the same people, except Hayley, […] and ran a 10:25 time. It’s a big time difference compared to now and I think part of it was because Kauffman was really motivated for us to get here,” Burns said.

The head coach provided the girls on the team with specialized workouts, specific for each individual said Burns. And, according to Baffa, without the training they had, it would not have been possible. The relay team also attributes some of their success to the supportive nature of the team.

“[At County] a lot of people were cheering us on the last straightaway, and that really helped. In track, the support is everything that gets you through a race and I think we all just really appreciated it. […] Positivity is one of the biggest factors in relays,” Baffa said.

At first, the girls were not aware that they had broken a record, but when they found out Houghton described the feeling as being “surreal.”

“As a senior, it’s a really special memory because I never thought I would ever come close to holding a title like this. It makes me feel accomplished and proud of the commitment I made to myself and the team for four years,” Houghton said.

According to their previous times, the relay was not expected to get first, so breaking a school record, let alone winning, wasn’t expected.

“It brings an element of confidence. It’s almost like ‘wow we can do it’ and that’s all thanks to the training we have behind us,” Burk said. “[Now] I feel a sense of accomplishment, but at the same time it’s just running [just] like its always been.”

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Going the extra distance: what it took for one 4×8 relay to break school record