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Natalie Norman was excited about the chance to take first place in the 800-meter dash at the regional meet for the third year in a row. She was even more excited for the chance to go to state with the 4x400-meter relay team.
Norman took first place in the 800-meter dash with a region record time of 2:19.36. She was also the first leg of the 4x400-meter relay team, composed of Norman, Caylin Hare, Michelle Willougby and Taylor Cummins, that qualified for state with a time of 4:20.40.
“Natalie showed her maturity and her experience by channeling her excitement into her race,” coach Brian Soules said. “She put up her second best time of the year and looking at the state performance list, she’s ranked second behind Emma Brinks of Sacred Heart. It’s going to be an exciting race and we’re trying to give Natalie the best chance to be successful at this stage in her career.”
Norman had to wait five hours before the 800-meter dash, but dominated when she finally took the track, winning by 3.87 seconds.
“I think it went well and I’m excited about state now,” Norman said. “I enjoy watching all the other runners compete, so I focus on that instead of my race while I wait. It’s exciting because it makes me feel really good. I’m excited about state and was ready to get regionals over with so I could prepare for state.”
Norman put pressure on herself at state last year, finishing 14th, but this year, she’s confident in her abilities and doesn’t believe that nerves will play a factor.
“My workouts won’t be as hard this week so I can save some energy,” Norman said. “I felt like it was expected of me to win last year. This year, I’m confident that I can win and I won’t be as nervous.”
This year is the first time the girls’ 4x400-meter relay team has advanced to state and Soules believes the girls can improve on their region performance with a few tweaks.
“They ran their best time of the year, but there were some technical things in the race that we can do better,” Soules said. “I can foresee that time heading down a couple seconds. My goal is for them to run 2:15 which is a tall order, but they’ll be at the state meet and there will be a lot of adrenaline and they’ll be focused.”
Hare also finished fourth in the 100-meter dash and sixth in the 200-meter dash. As a freshman, Soules believes that Hare has a bright future.
“Caylin had a pretty good meet overall,” Soules said. “She learned from this year and we both learned in terms of her progression. With her experience level and youth, she’ll continue to develop.”
For the boys’ team, Jeffrey Covington led the team, finishing fourth in the 800-meter run and fifth in the 1600-meter run despite suffering from leg cramps. Jordan Cummins placed fifth in the 3200-meter run.
“Jeff ran two pretty good races,” Soules said. “He never gave up and pushed himself to the brink. He was in position, but the race is what it is. He only missed qualifying for state by a couple seconds in each race. He’s had a great career here and a great season. We’ll be seeing a lot more from him when he races at Morehead State.
“Jordan is an amazing athlete,” Soules said. “His main spring sport is baseball and in terms of doing training, he didn’t do a whole lot. It shows how mentally tough he is. He worked hard and he pushed himself. He can definitely go to state because he’s only a sophomore and he will continue to develop.”
(For complete results from the regional meet, go to www.grantky.com.)