BHS girls’ squad ends meet with first-place relay
BHS girls 1,600-meter relay wins state
Baldwin High School's girls' 1,600-meter relay team won the Class 4A state race in Wichita. The Bulldogs ran 4:03.11 in the prelims to set a school record. In the finals, the Bulldogs ran 4:04.96 to edge out Colby for the state title.
WICHITA — With a school record set Friday afternoon, Baldwin High School senior JaBryanna Wellington took the track here Saturday evening with one goal … a state championship.
Less than five minutes later, she killed two birds with one stone. Wellington anchored the girls’ 1,600-meter relay to victory in the Class 4A race. That win boosted the Bulldogs to the top spot in the team standings, securing them their first-ever state track and field title.
“It was all or nothing,” Wellington said. “I had to do it for my teammates. I had to win it. They (Colby) thought they were going to win it, so it was fun to prove them wrong.”
Baldwin battled Colby High in the preliminary race Friday and in the finals Saturday. Both races were nearly identical, with the Bulldogs coming out on top by a narrow margin.
On Friday, the Bulldogs trailed Colby for most of the race. BHS freshman Kaitlyn Barnes closed the gap down to a few feet on Colby before passing the baton to Wellington on the anchor leg.
The BHS senior, who also placed fifth in the 400-meter dash, chased after Colby’s Emilea Finley for 300 meters. Wellington passed her down the home stretch of the Cessna Stadium track. Finley nearly passed Wellington back, but Baldwin won the race in a time of 4:03.11.
That time broke the school record, which was set last year in the prelims when the Bulldogs ran 4:03.77. Colby ran 4:03.38 on Friday.
“The school record is awesome, but the state title feels so much better,” senior Connor Twombly said. “We wanted that title.”
With the fastest time in 4A set, the Bulldogs went after that state title in the final race Saturday. Once again, Colby took a slight lead on the first two legs of the relay, but Barnes brought the Bulldogs back to within a couple of feet.
Wellington and Finley battled neck-and-neck for the next 400 meters. Wellington passed Finley down the home stretch again, but Finley rallied to nearly pass Wellington back at the end. However, the Baldwin senior dipped her shoulder at the finish line to win the race.
“I really tried to get ahead and stay there until the end of the race,” Wellington said. “When I finally got there, I knew it was close, but I didn’t care. I had to go for it. I leaned and almost dove for it. I almost fell over, but I would have got up. We weren’t going to share our team championship.”
Baldwin’s time of 4:04.96 just beat Colby’s 4:04.99 in the finals.
“Our time wasn’t as fast today, but I felt like I ran better today,” Twombly said. “I don’t know why I felt better, but I did.”
Barnes said the rest of the BHS girls’ squad and the boys’ team were cheering for them during the finals race Saturday, which helped them run faster at the end of a long, hot day.
“They were both exciting races, but in this one we were going after a team title,” she said. “That helps for motivation. This was also for the whole team, because they were cheering us on during the race.”
For sophomore Elizabeth Sigvaldson, Twombly and Barnes, it was their second state-title winning race of the day. They also helped win the 3,200-meter run in the morning. After the regional meet, Sigvaldson said she was going to get two gold medals at state — her prediction came true.
“I am just so excited,” Sigvaldson said. “I was thinking all week this was going to happen and now that it has, it’s 10 times more exciting. I love it and I never want to let go of this feeling.”