Over the last two months freshmen Karlee Walkowiak and Caitlin Hunt and seniors Henriette Aas and Christiana Strysko spent their time working on the fluidity and speed involved in the 4x100 relay. This took multiple trips to the track in Brattleboro each week, to practice handoffs, keeping in their lanes, and figuring out who was comfortable running the corners. Those weeks of preparation all came down to Friday’s final run, three perfect handoffs and four solid sprints. Everything needed to fall into place, and it did. In the order of Walkowiak, Strysko, Aas, and Hunt, Twin Valley won the relay by a full two seconds to take home a state championship with a time of 59:17.
“This is a group of kids who were dedicated and committed the entire season,” said coach Buddy Hayford. “Hard work pays off and this is a great example of that. We knew going in that we were in the top four and we had a chance, and that’s all we needed. They ran a flawless race, plain and simple. They did everything they worked on in practice all season, they worked the kinks out, and came up with what proved to be a winning combination.”
The speed of this team was exemplified further in the results of the 100-meter dash. During the tournament, four heats were run in order to find the top nine runners for the champion dash. Twin Valley qualified three runners in the event.
Walkowiak came in sixth overall, Aas came in fifth, and Hunt placed fourth. Kirra Courchesne gained points for her 800-meter run, coming in sixth with a time of 3:01. Hunt would also add to the overall score with a fourth-place finish in the long jump at 13 1/2.
Although they didn’t garner points, personal records were set by Mandolin Lucier for her time in the 200-meter dash, and Courchesne, who flung a 61-foot discus throw and long-jumped 12 2/3.
While the girls’ team placed seventh out of 12 teams overall, the boys finished 11th out of 12, a statistic that doesn’t do their individual efforts much justice. The 4x100 relay team, missing Nick Nilsen due to illness, used Skyler Boyd to fill the void and was still able to finish fourth in an event that proved crowded with competition. “The competition was brutal,” said Hayford, “but the fact we came in fourth with a fill-in was impressive.” Twin Valley’s fourth-place finish was only two seconds behind the winner.
No Twin Valley boys would qualify for the top 11 in the 100-meter dash, but Eli Park would set a personal record of 12.86 seconds. Jacob Hicks set personal records in the 1,500 and 3,000 races, while Dylan Florence set a personal record in shot put with a 30 1/2.
The Wildcats would gain points for field events, including a fifth-place finish by both Boyd and Park in the high jump at 5 1/6 each, while Boyd would fly 18 feet in the long jump, good enough for a sixth-place finish and a personal record.
Winning a state championship is always the best way to end a year, and while two members of the relay team graduate, the other two will be a team for Hayford to build on in the future. In fact, with almost half his team in ninth grade this year, Hayford feels his team has good years ahead of it.
“We had a young team, and Christy and Eli were great captains,” said Hayford. “In all, I look back at the season, and it was a lot of fun, and it was very successful. We don’t have the numbers some other schools come with and it can be tough to gain points that way, but the events we did enter in, our kids accounted for themselves very nicely.”