Tracksters Rule Regionals, Advance to State


Left to right: Madalyn Aldridge, Jahnae McCain, Kaylyn Persyn, Haylee Hurtado, and Ellie Austin make up the relay team that broke a record set in 1993; the team will go to state.

Anna Adams, Staff Writer

The Panthers ruled the track in a successful regional meet, with a few advancing to the state meet at the University of Texas in Austin. A relay team qualified for state, which has not happened since 1995, and five new school records were set.

“This might sound kind of weird, but our quote throughout high jump [this season] was ‘get over that puppy’,” junior Emily Hecker said. Coined by a teammate, the saying means “jump over the bar.” She has made lots of progress by working out on the weekends, improving her approach and form, and surpassing her goals with lots of support from her coach, Jason Wiemers. Hecker competed at regionals and hopes to qualify for state next year. 

Emily Hecker.

“I wanted to break the 3200 and 1600 school records,” senior Macy Livingston said. “I did that!” A regional qualifier since her freshman year, Livingston was not surprised to advance so far this year; rather, she pushed herself even further, qualifying for state in both cross country and track her senior year while setting personal and school records. She plans to continue running after graduation.

Macy Livingston.

“Our work ethic the entire pre-season was off the charts,” junior Kaylyn Persyn said. “Whatever happened in the meet[s], we would be prepared.” Persyn competes in sprints, hurdles, and relays, with lots of support and motivation from coach Misti Kinnett and teammate Haylee Hurtado. Persyn plans to compete in a heptathlon in college.

Kaylyn Persyn and Haylee Hurtado.

“[Pole vault] has been something I actually enjoyed doing,” senior Emma Bauml said. She discovered her passion for pole vault in seventh grade and has been practicing since then, even attending private lessons during the lockdown to stay in shape and refine her techniques. Bauml qualified for state her sophomore year, but her junior year “got taken away because of COVID.” This year, she put in extra effort to improve her skills and surpassed her goals.

Madalyn Aldridge and Emma Bauml.

“I enjoy the thrill of running fast and showing my competitive side,” sprinter and junior Jahnae McCain said. “My mindset is to succeed in all I do.” Formerly a resident of Illinois, McCain practiced gymnastics until she took up running. As a freshman, she was a varsity runner, record-setter, and state qualifier, but her sophomore season was interrupted by COVID-19 protocols; this year, McCain is back in full swing, qualifying for state once again. She is grateful for her Illinois coach Thomas Boatright, and her father, who she describes as her “#1 coach and spectator.” McCain is excited to be a senior and hopes to earn a track scholarship to a D-1 school.

Jahnae McCain.

“With my season coming to an end, I will take my losses and start to better myself in my relays and individual races, and make the most of my senior season in track and field,” junior Ellie Austin said. A relay sprinter, she loves the adrenaline and competition of her events. When she realized this season would not get cut short because of COVID-19, like what happened last year, she seized the season. Austin runs with determination, her mantra being: “I am here for a reason.”

Elia Evans and Ellie Austin.

The Panthers prove themselves impenetrable as they forge past COVID-19, heat waves, and even snowstorms, rightfully earning their spots as state qualifiers.