Another Oklahoma Christian University track record was broken Feb. 9 in Pittsburg, KS, at the Indoor Gorilla Classic.
The women’s 4×800 meter relay team of freshman Payton Duesing and seniors Kelsey Castillo, Leisa VanVooren and Kelsey Simmons finished the race in 9:27.61, smashing the previous record of 9:49.26 set in 2003. With their time, they placed second out of six teams.
This broken record marks the fourth record Simmons, VanVooren and Castillo have set as a team. Last year, the three set a new record in the distance medley, running a 12:09.22 at the Indoor Gorilla Classic. They set two more records in the outdoor distance medley and outdoor 4×800 at the Drake Relays in April 2018.
As a senior, VanVooren said this season brings sadness because it is her last, but she said it also is an exciting time.
“I am really sad it is my last season running for Oklahoma Christian,” VanVooren said. “I know I want to keep competing after college, but running with your teammates makes it more special. I am excited about how this season has gone so far and am ready to make some more memories.”
During the race, Oklahoma Christian stayed in second from the beginning to the end. Castillo ran the last leg of the relay to secure second and the new record. Castillo said the other three put her in perfect position to finish the race strong.
“I felt really excited when Leisa passed the baton off to me, because I could see that the three of them had us in a great position to break the record,” Castillo said. “With about 400 meters left, I noticed that one of the teams was picking up the pace, so I decided to go with her. [We] ended up sprinting down the last 100 meters side by side, and I edged her out in the last few meters. I looked up at the time at the last second and saw that we had crushed the record, and I was so excited.”
Duesing said it was such an honor to be able to break a record in her freshman year of track, and she cannot wait to see what the outdoor season brings.
“Track is my passion and to be on a team that could break a record was such an amazing opportunity,” Duesing said. “Coming into the meet, we were super excited, because we knew we had a good chance at breaking the record. The four of us talked all week about our plan to get the record and since we are so close, it helped us work together, knowing we can all count on each other to do our part in the race.”
Being the only freshman on the relay team, Duesing said she did not let the pressure affect her performance.
“I felt some pressure being the only freshman, but it also really drove me to work my hardest in practices and throughout the race, knowing I have a job to fulfill and my teammates are relying on me, no matter how old I am,” Duesing said.
The Oklahoma Christian track team will compete in the Great American Conference Indoor Meet this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23, in their last indoor meet of the 2019 season.