When the Huntley Middle School seventh-grade girls 4x100 relay stood on the podium last week at the Eastside Center in East Peoria, the runners knew they were state champs.
But on the podium they found out they were the fastest ever to do it in the state.
“They were already on the podium,” Huntley coach Matt McIntyre said. “They were each getting their medal when they announced it was a state record. You probably still can’t wipe the smiles off their faces today.”
Mariya Alexander led off the relay, followed by Amaya Kemp, Kara Zimmerman and anchor Eloise Fisher. They finished in 52.74, smashing their seed time by more than a second and setting a new seventh-grade state record along with the seventh-grade Class 4A title.
The group missed the school record which was set earlier this year by the eighth grade 4x100 in 52.71.
The seventh grade’s time was faster than seven high school state-qualifying 4x100 teams. The Huntley relay also was the only one of the top four finishers to feature a sixth grader (Alexander) on the track.
The old record, according to the IESA website, was 54.45 seconds.
“They broke the 4A state record by a whole second,” McIntyre said “It wasn’t by a slim margin.”
McIntyre said it was the toughest competition the relay faced all year and it brought out their best.
“They came in seeded third so our expectations were pretty high,” McIntyre said. “They hadn’t really been pushed at all. I wasn’t surprised with them getting first. I was surprised with the time.”