The 4x400-meter relay team pushed boundaries this weekend at the IU Relays.
Saturday afternoon, the Hoosiers ran the 4x400 with a team consisting of freshman Zykeria Williams, senior Kendell Wiles, junior Riley Egbula and freshman Natalie Price. The group started out the first leg in last place, when Williams came out with a rough start.
After the handoff, Wiles made a quick effort to close the gap between IU and Western Kentucky. In the third leg, Egbula moved the team up to third place as it passed Notre Dame. In the last leg, Price started out behind University of Cincinnati, but quickly made up the difference as she crossed the line in first place of the first heat with a time of 3:44.69, good enough for second overall.
Since the beginning of the season, Price has fought to earn a top spot on the team. Last weekend, she performed well, but an illness prevented her from competing at full capacity. She was only able to participate in the 4x400.
This weekend, however, Price was healthy and raced in three different events, including the 4x400, the 400-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. The freshman finished third in the 400 with a time of 54.63, as well as third in the 200 with a time of 24.42.
“Natalie came to us as one of the top six or seven 400-meter runners in the country last year, so she is a big time talent,” Helmer said. “She was one that got loaded up a little bit this week with three races, but she handled it really well."
Price handled the three races well enough that she also earned a personal best (PR) in the 400-meter race by four hundreths of a second. This is Price’s second PR in the 400 this season.
Along with Price, Wiles also had success in other events. In addition to the 4x400, Wiles participated in the 600-meter race, where she finished in first place with a time of 1:29.82. This time has Wiles ranked in second place in the Big Ten for the 600.
“This early in the season, we haven’t pulled back at all,” Wiles said. “We’ve been grinding and grinding, and each week, we just need to realize that eventually we’ll have time to let our legs rest. But the time we put in before that is going to show.”
Although Williams struggled in the 4x400, she excelled elsewhere on the track. In her first collegiate 200-meter race, Williams finished in fifth place with a time of 24.46.
Williams then came in third place in the 60-meter hurdle preliminaries with a time of 8.60. This performance qualified her for the finals, in which she came in second place with a time of 8.62.
Junior Kelsey Harris moved up the Big Ten rankings this week to second after she dropped over two seconds in her 800-meter performance. This not only moved Harris up in the rankings but also gave her a new PR of 2:06.08.
Fellow 800 runner, senior Brenna Calder, moved up seven spots in the Big Ten Rankings to number three when she finished second place with a time of 2:06.93.
This is only 63-hundredths of a second off her personal best, which she earned at the Outdoor Big Ten championships last year.
As for training, Wiles and Helmer said rankings don’t change the way the team trains. It motivates the athletes to fight harder, and keep up the good work, but the idea of patience and persistence remains the same.