On Saturday afternoon, the Austin-area trio of Bowie senior Meghan Christensen, Round Rock junior Alyssa Moody and Anderson senior Nolawie Teshome will only be 800 meters away from the state track and field meet.
On Friday in Waco, Christensen, Moody and Teshome all qualified for the Class 5A, Region II track and field meet’s 800-meter final. Running at Baylor’s Hart-Patterson Complex, Christensen and Moody respectively placed third and sixth in Friday’s preliminary event while Teshome was the meet’s sixth-fastest boy.
“I’ve been training, this is what I’ve been working for all season,” Christensen said. “Just to see how far my training will get me and just to run my race and do my best and see how that puts me with everyone else. I’m excited.”
Perhaps the sport’s most grueling race, the 800-meter run consists of two laps around a track. The race measures a runner’s speed and endurance.
“I think it’s part sprint, part distance,” Teshome said. “You need the speed to get the 400 (meters) times but you need the endurance to keep it up.”
Teshome recorded a time of 1:59.68 in his preliminary heat. Christensen and Moody ran in separate heats but both runners finished second in their races.
Christensen ran two laps in 2:17.72 and she finished .05 seconds behind McKinney Boyd freshman Aaliyah Miller. The Woodlands’ Katie Willard, who set the regional meet’s 800-meter record in 2012, won Moody’s heat with a time of 2:15.70.
“The first 600, I stayed in the top of the pack,” said Christensen, who has signed with Memphis. “When people started to kick, I knew that I had plenty left in me to pull it out and try to get some good conditioning in for tomorrow.”
Sixteen additional athletes and seven relay teams from the Austin area qualified for a sprint finale on Friday. Two Austin-area representatives - McNeil sprinter Judy Emeodi and Austin High hurdler Dorian Parks - will run in two individual events on Saturday.
A top-two finish on Saturday will automatically qualify an athlete for the state meet, which will be held in Austin from May 10-11. The top third-place finisher from Class 5A’s four regional meets will also qualify.
“I just want to try to PR… make it to state for the first time,” said Round Rock’s Terry Brown, a 400-meter finalist. “I welcome all the competition I can get.”
Finals in six field events and two distance races were held at the Class 5A, Region II meet on Friday.
The Austin area did not record a top-three finish in the high jump, triple jump and shot put. Westlake junior Jessica Ellis placed third in the girls 3,200-meters but her time was not quick enough to secure the state meet’s wild card slot.