Kylie Frank crossed the finish line at the AHSAA Class 3A state track meet in record time, and let out one squeal of celebration with her father before the Catholic eighth-grader knew she had to mentally regroup for the 400-meter race.
Just minutes after Frank’s race, Trinity junior Wesley Curles crossed the finish line of the 3A boys mile race first, also in state record time.
Curles won with a time of 4:25.29, beating the previous state record of 4:26.67, set in 2003 by Wade Martin of Good Hope. Frank won her race in 5:11.11, beating the old state record of 5:13.77, set three years ago by T.R. Miller’s Karisa Nelson. On Friday, Nelson finished second behind Frank with a time of 5:12.92.
“I was really nervous coming in here,” Frank said of the 1,600-meter race. “Karissa Nelson … was the favorite to win. When I was about to run, my dad was like, ‘Remember what we talked about … as long as you can sit on them, you can outkick them in the end.'”
The AHSAA state track and field meet at Memorial Stadium in Selma continues today and includes schools in the 1A, 2A and 3A divisions.
Many of the races on Friday were preliminary races for today’s finals, including the boys 110-meter hurdles, the girls 100-meter hurdles, the 100-meter dash and the 200.
Curles sat in the stands with his family after his record-setting win, and said this season has been focused on improving.
Of the mile race: “I felt strong the first two laps. The back stretch was really windy. So I was able to let others draft. The last lap, I just really tried to push. I had to make my move pretty early because the pace had slowed down. I think on the second lap, they didn’t want me to draft off of them the whole time. They wanted me to work a little on the back stretch.”
His goal for next year is to run a 4:20 mile. Dropping five seconds in a mile, he said, “takes a lot of running. I focused more this year on longer intervals. It’s being able to maintain race pace. I felt like I was stronger in the earlier laps this year instead of just hanging behind and kicking at the end.
“Last year, I did a lot of that. This year, I just adapted to the race and read what was going on.”
Curles runs the 800 and two-mile race today, and is open about his goal: he wants to break 9:50 in the two-mile.
“For the 800, we’ve got some stronger guys,” he said. “Cottage Hill guys should be up in front. I enjoy the 800, the fast pace. It’s just a different race. The 3,200, I’m really working for the last three laps. But in the 800, you’re pushing for the last lap. Patience isn’t much of a factor.”
Shortly after Frank’s mile race on Friday, she also won the 400-meter race in 1:00.51.
“I don’t think I did that race perfectly,” she said of the mile. “There was a lot of shoving and pushing. People were about to fall around the 600 mark at the beginning. I got ahead of that because people were falling back. I think I had a little more left than everyone else. It was a luck of the draw race, I think. It was really fun to race, though. It is my favorite event.
“I had high hopes for it.”
Today, she runs the 800 meters. And next school year, will be running in Jefferson City, Mo., where her family will live while her father is deployed.
Montgomery Academy’s Taylor Gerard won the girls 2A mile race in 5:28.67, and teammate Kaylee Quinn placed third in 5:49.48. MA freshman Jack Barganier finished third in the boys 2A mile race with a time of 4:46.97.
The Trinity Wildcats placed second and third in the boys 3A 400-meter race. Davis Mann finished second with a time of 51.94, and Thomas Stallings finished third with a time of 52.49.
In the girls 2A 3,200 relay, Montgomery Academy won first place with a time of 10:40.43, and Prattville Christian finished second in 11:07.73. Last year, when MA competed in the 3A division, their 3,200 relay team set a state record with a time of 10:09.18. This year’s team didn’t have the same runners.
The Catholic boys 3A 3,200 relay team won with a time of 8:30.75, and Trinity finished third in 8:43.66.
“This is three years in a row for us winning this race,” said Catholic coach John Terino. “With three of them being seniors, it was almost something really special that they have won it all these years. And they wanted to go out winning that title more than anything at this meet.
“For us, it’s almost symbolic of what we’ve been doing the past few years, is doing things as a team. The challenge for us was going out and doing this as a team. This is the only race those guys are doing as a team, so it really was special for them to be able to do that.”