WELLSVILLE -- She may not be legendary miler Roger Bannister, but Heather Garcia's mile run here Friday night captured the imagination of the crowd.
Bannister was the first man to break four minutes in the mile. Garcia wasn't the first girl to break five minutes in the 1,600-meter run, but she took the lead and never looked back as she ran the fastest time in the state this year.
"Heather's mile was chilling," coach Ted Zuzzio said. "Very seldom do you see a high school girl go under five minutes in the mile and we were privileged to see it Friday night."
Garcia's record-breaking run helped the BHS girls place third as a team at the Red Bud Classic. Eudora scored 110 points, while Paola and Baldwin each totaled 78 and 70.75 points, respectively.
"We had a good day, but if we would have had a monster day I think we could have gotten second," Zuzzio said. "We got what I predicted, which was third out of 19 schools, so that's not too bad."
The Baldwin High School junior crossed the line after running a sub-five-minute 1,600. She won the race with a time of 4:58.9.
"It was very exciting," Garcia said. "I am just a little bit out of it right now. It hasn't really settled in. It's been a goal to PR all year, so to get one is amazing. I felt so good."
Her 1,600 Friday broke her previous school record of 5:03.65. She set that time last May at the Frontier League meet.
The Bulldogs will be competing in the league meet today in Ottawa. Garcia will again be competing against rivals Cali George, Gardner-Edgerton, and Brittney Graff, Eudora, in the 1,600.
"It makes me nervous, but I think I am ready," Garcia said of today's meet. "It will be a long day as always, so hopefully we will compete well."
On Friday, Garcia had one goal and that was the 5:00 barrier. After talking to distance coach Mike Spielman, Garcia went after the elusive time.
"We had decided this would be one of the few times she would get a chance to run fast," Spielman said. "She was fresh for the mile and she said she felt good for the first time in a little while. She said she wanted to try it."
After the race, she remembers each lap and how much she fought to break the barrier.
"After the first lap I thought I was slow, but I wasn't, which was really good," Garcia said. "I kind of slowed down on my second lap so I wouldn't burn out. My third lap is my weak lap, so I pushed a lot harder. After the first 100 on my last lap, coach told me I was right on, so I just started giving it all I had."
Once she finished, she wanted to know what her time was, but was too tired to stand up.
"The first thing I did was ask for my time," Garcia said. "Then I kind of fell over from being so tired. It was so nice."
Spielman only remembers watching one other high school girl break the five-minute barrier in the mile and that was Riley County's Amy Mortimer, who went on to run for Kansas State University.
"It was a really exciting race for everybody there to watch," Spielman said. "The only other one I've seen is Amy Mortimer run a 4:42 at the state meet one time."
Although her 1,600 run was the highlight of her night, Garcia wasn't finished that early Friday. She also ran the 3,200-meter run and anchored the 1,600-meter relay.
Garcia also won the 3,200 after running behind Graff for nearly seven of the eight laps. Her victorious time was 11:28.1.
"I was really tired, so I was just taking it easy but not coasting," Garcia said. "I was just running with Brittney, then I just started kicking. That's all I had. The time was fine. I did my timed race earlier. I didn't really need to go for a time, I just had to run."
She also ran the final leg of the 1,600 relay that placed second in a time of 4:08.1. Also running on the relay was junior Courtney Harris, sophomore Corinna Papps and senior Kelsey Verhaeghe.
The BHS 3,200-meter relay won Friday night as it ran 10:15.4. Running on the relay were Verhaeghe, Papps, senior Amanda Vander Tuig and sophomore Calleigh Durr.
"We had some quality effort Friday night with Garcia running the state's fastest mile," Zuzzio said. "Our 4x800 and 4x400 both ran their fastest times of the year. It's pretty exciting to see the kids in those events lowering down their times."
Other BHS placers at the meet included Harris in the javelin (third, 114-feet, 1-inch), junior Ashley Tucker in the shot put (fourth, 32-7), Vander Tuig in the high jump (third, 4-10), sophomore Olivia Catloth in the high jump (4-8), freshman Connor Twombly in the 1,600 run (fourth, 5:40), Papps in the 300-meter hurdles (fifth, 50.3), Verhaeghe in the 800-meter run (second, 2:29.2) and the 400-meter throwers relay (first, 59.5).
The Bulldogs will be competing in the Frontier League meet today in Ottawa. The meet will begin at 3:30 p.m.
"We have some of the state's finest in our conference," Zuzzio said. "It's going to be a great track meet. It's the last year for 13 teams competing in it."
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