Athletes often say they are not satisfied with just getting to a state tournament, but the girls on the Alexandria 4x800-meter relay team were genuinely thrilled with the opportunity of being at Hamline University on Saturday morning.
“I was thinking that whatever happens today, we’re going to be so proud of it,” junior Bethany Miller said. “We’ve achieved more this season than we ever thought we could.”
The Miller sisters of Jaelyn, seventh-grade, Bethany, and Aleah, a freshman, joined up with sophomore Myah Kremer to set a new school record during the Section 8AA meet with a time of 9:26.99. On Saturday, they used the adrenaline of performing on the state stage to shatter that record in 9:23.91 and finish third on the podium.
“I don’t know if I have words for that right now,” Bethany said. “It was so cool to break the record like that the first time. Now, it doesn’t really feel real yet, and it’s going to hit me later today.”
“There’s magic at the state meet,” Aleah added. “There’s a true magic in this track.”
Jaelyn ran the opening leg and handed off to Bethany for the second.
“Honestly, I was pretty scared, but I thought we could do pretty well since we did so well at sections,” Jaelyn said.
The Cardinals methodically reeled in the competition throughout the race, taking a lead into the final 400 meters as Kremer tried to put things away. Kate LeBlanc of Minnetonka had a little more kick than the rest of the field as she secured the championship for her team in 9:20.54, The foursome from White Bear Lake was second in 9:22.87.
“Just keep pushing through,” Kremer said of her mindset down the stretch. “Our coaches always say, ‘Just be yourself.’ I didn’t really think about (the teams behind me) too much. I was just making sure I kept pushing until the end.”
ALEXANDRIA GIRLS SECOND AS A TEAM
Aleah Miller ran in the 1,600-meter race at state a year ago as an eighth-grader, but said this experience with a relay team exceeded that of competing as an individual.
That team aspect of track and field is something the Cardinal coaches preach each season, and it was on full display at the state meet.
The Alexandria girls almost won the team championship on Saturday, finishing second with 70 total points. Rosemount stole that state championship in the final event of the day, the 4x400-meter relay, and finished with 71.75 points.
“It means a lot,” Aleah said. “Last year, I went by myself and it was fun, but I never knew how much fun it could be having a team with me. It was just really exciting to bring that many people down to state. We had a whole crew this year.”