The Newark Catholic 3,200 relay actually began to form during the cross country season.
The Green Wave’s final piece was an obvious fit — at least to everyone but the runner. It did not take long for freshman Kat Bowman to assume the top spot on the NC cross country team, and her teammates immediately began planning her track future.
“In cross country, she told us she was going to be a sprinter in track,” junior Mary Richardson said. “We were like, ‘No, you are not.'”
NC now appears to have the perfect mix on an ever-improving 3,200 relay. Richardson and classmate McKi Reid bring the distance experience, while Bowman and sophomore Mickayla Messer, one of the program’s best 400 runners, add the speed.
The Green Wave ran away from the pack during the Licking Valley Invitational. They took the title in a season-best time of 10:25.65, finishing 14 seconds ahead of both Licking Heights and host Valley.
“We love running with those teams,” Richardson said. “We waited until this week to come together because this was like the first real competition. We knew Valley would be good because of Mackenzie Butler.”
Coaching continuity has contributed. Zak Holland was added to coach Rennie Bare’s staff before the cross country season, and Holland has stuck with the program to be an assistant track coach.
Times have come down across the board. Richardson ran a personal-best 12:35.95 to win the 3,200 at Valley. Reid took second in the 1,600, and she and Bowman placed second and third in the 800.
“We figured this would be a good time to show off,” Richardson said. “Confidence is helping a lot. I know personally before when I felt like I was going to do bad, I would do bad.”
The Green Wave’s next test in the 3,200 relay comes in Wednesday’s Licking County Honor Roll meet at Granville. The Blue Aces have the county’s best time of the season, but NC has closed the gap.
NC previously had not been under 10:30 since the Green Wave advanced the 3,200 relay to the Division III state meet in 2009.
“We just keep dropping,” Reid said. “It is fantastic. I feel like we are just going to keep going from here. I don’t see us stopping anytime soon.”