By Dave Ongie
From start to finish, the state championship won by the University High girls’ 4×800 relay team in Murfreesboro last Wednesday was a story of persistence.
The journey that started with 4:30 a.m. workouts in the preseason concluded with a run for the ages by Ashley Daniel, Anna Bader, Ali Burns and Bekah Owen. All four girls ran personal bests in the 4×800 state final, shaving 22 seconds off the time they ran in the sectional. As it turned out, it took every ounce of effort to bring home the gold as Owen outkicked the competition on the homestretch to win the championship by running a 10:25.
“Every single time they got on the track, they each did a little something more to take off a little bit more time,” UH coach Maggie Whitson said. “Each meet, they improved and each meet they worked on the little things to make it all come together.”
Although Lena Allison couldn’t be there for the state finals, Whitson said she deserved to share in the glory. Allison was part of the five-girl rotation on the 4×800 team and ran in the sectionals.
It took an unselfish effort to win the title, and that’s what Whitson will remember most about this group of golden girls.
“All five of them worked so hard,” Whitson said. “Not one of them runs that event for the glory of themselves, they run it for the glory of their team. This team has gone through a lot of ups and downs, but in the end, they just stayed the course.”