Track tales

Haeleigh Bayle, Reporter

My heart was pounding, my hands were sweaty, and my eyes were locked onto my teammate as she rounded the last corner on the track and headed toward me with the 4 x 400 meter baton in her hand, waving through the air in fluid motions. She drew closer and closer, with a Seneca girl trailing behind her. I was the last leg of the race, and the one with the most pressure. It was my seventh-grade year and our season was coming to an end, so I knew I had to give it everything I had.

I started to shuffle and stuck my hand out to take the baton from Gwen as she sprinted toward me. I felt the cold, rounded baton strike my hand, so I clenched it tight and took off. The Seneca girl I was up against wasn’t handed the baton until a while later. I was going strong, breathing in and out in a good rhythm, pumping my arms, and letting my legs fly. But out of nowhere, I heard heavy breathing coming up behind me. I pushed a little faster, but still, the breathing got closer. I could hear my whole team screaming my name as I rounded the corner of the 200, and edged closer to the 300 mark. My breathing wasn’t so rhythmic anymore; it was short, quick breaths trying to suck in as much oxygen as my lungs could handle. Now I could hear her feet stomping on the track and the swish of her hair as it flung to and fro.

“Come on, just 100 meters left,” I told myself over and over, chanting the short phrase as if it was going to save me.

Before I knew it, she was right beside me, and there we were running in perfect synchronization down the track. I watched her slowly pull ahead, her strides longer than mine. In retaliation, I jumped up beside her. Back and forth we went, bee-lining down the last 100 meters to the finish where my team and her team stood screaming. Time seemed to slow down as I realized I had to beat her. So with a last mighty surge of speed I pulled ahead of her by a fraction of an inch, flung myself across the finish line, and heard the official scream to an up-roaring crowd:

“Corry! Then Seneca!”

My coach leaped into the air and ran to congratulate me on my hard-earned win.

My girls team gave me a shower of high-fives, hugs, and ‘good jobs.’ I was instantly surrounded by people, though I was hunched over trying to hold my balance and keep breathing.

I felt a light tap on the back of my shoulder and turned to see the Seneca girl towering over me, panting just as hard as I was.

“You…did…absolutely…amazing!” She mustered out, through gulps of air.

“You did too!” Together, we shared a laugh at how out of breath we were.

We talked for a short while longer, getting to know each other and hoping to be able to race against each other again during the season. After parting ways, my 4 x 400 team went up to the table to claim our medals, which gave a sweet reward to all of the hard work that was put into it.

“Smile,” said a fellow teammate who took a picture of us girls with all of our medals.

Though the moment of happiness was captured on camera, it will always be most memorable in my heart.