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WIAA D3 track: Spring Valley sets school record

The Spring Valley 800-meter relay team beat the school record set in 2012 in the preliminary race of the WIAA Division 3 state track meet Friday, June 2, in La Crosse. Photo courtesy of Debbie Bowman

LA CROSSE -- If the Spring Valley 800-meter relay record set in 2012 could talk it would probably say it saw the 2017 relay team coming.

Even though the 2012 relay team had two older sisters of the 2017 team, it's possible they didn't see it coming.

Brianna O’Brien, the anchor of the 2017 relay, said she hasn’t told her sister, Sam O’Brien, yet.

“We’re going to break it at state and then I’m going to be like, ‘Yeah, I broke your school record, what’re you gonna do?’” Brianna said.

The current relay team of Erin Stans, Maddie Jacobson, Tatum Huntress and O’Brien has crept up steadily and in its preliminary round race it set the record with a time of 1 minute, 50.46 seconds at the WIAA Division 3 state track meet in La Crosse Friday, June 2.

The time was almost a full second faster than the previous record.

The Cardinals had confidence that they were going to go to La Crosse and break the record when talking at practice Wednesday, May 31, at Spring Valley High School.

Huntress said she knew how difficult it would be, but she still had a bold prediction at practice.

“We’re going to go down there and shave off another second,” she said.

She was wrong.

They cut their time down by more than a full second.

At the regionals meet in Eleva-Strum, the relay finished with a time of 1:53.13. At sectionals in Colfax, the relay finished with a time of 1:51.8.

“To cut off four seconds off a sprint is hard,” Spring Valley coach Debbie Bowman said. “To do that is really impressive.”

Cutting time off of the relay by having more efficient relays was a key component.

Stans and Jacobson, whose older sister Brooke was on the 2012 relay, are the first and second runner for the 400 relay and the 800 relay.

That continuity has been a major asset and because it was so smooth, Bowman didn’t see a reason to change it.

“Their handoffs were so smooth that we didn’t mess with that order,” Bowman said. “Handoffs are everything and they were already so comfortable and smooth with those transitions.”

Jacobson said it has taken patience to recognize the differences with the handoffs for each race.

“We need to understand and work with each other to get there,” Jacobson said. “That’s how we’ve gotten there.”

Even with the continuity, though, the record wasn’t always on their radar.

“It feels super good. It’s unbelievable,” Huntress said. “I didn’t think we were even close, but then we looked at the record and it was incredible.”

Another key was a decision to work harder and push each other in practice.

“We’ve just had to work harder in practice,” Huntress said. “Once we started working harder, everyone started shaving time. We all just expect everyone to push each other to get better.”

“At the beginning of the season it seemed like we weren’t going to go that far,” Jacobson said, “but we decided to work harder and it’s paying off.”

After breaking the record in the state preliminaries to qualify for the state finals Saturday, June 3, they have another crack at the school record -- this time it is their own record.

Make no mistake, this time, the record holders are aware of the threat.

“We’re going for another half of a second and getting on the podium,” Huntress said.

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