Erin Lee may be ‘just’ a freshman, but the speedy Duke made a senior-sized splash at this year’s state track meet.
Lee led what Coach Don Perry termed, “A great state meet for our teams” at Omaha Burke Stadium.
“The girls broke two school records in winning the 1600 (4:02.06) and 3200 (9:37.26) meter relays,” Perry reported. “Erin Lee had an outstanding meet,” he added in understatement.
Lee’s freshman year has been quite something, starting when she won the Class B cross country championship last fall in Kearney.
Last Friday and Saturday at state, “She ran the anchor leg of both winning relays, plus winning the 1600 and placing third in the 800,” said her coach.
In the final lap of just her third 1600 race ever, Lee was more than 200 meters behind the leader, Holdrege junior Gabriella Gracia, when she stood on the gas.
Somewhere between 200 and 300 meters to go, “I went for it,” she said with “everything I had left.”
Gracia didn’t know what hit her when Lee sped by out of the final turn on the last of four laps. The Duster had nothing left for the Duke youngster, who won by a 3 ½ second margin that was as comfortable for Lee as it was shocking to Gracia and the thousands looking on in Burke Stadium.
Lee, who had to be cajoled into running the 1600 by her coaches, sheepishly admitted her gold medal time of 5:09.20 was a personal record “by almost 20 seconds.”
The York girls capped their Friday victory in the 4x800 relay by adding the championship in the Class B 4x400 on Saturday.
In that one Dacia Stuhr broke from the gun, ran her lap and passed the baton to Taylor Kadavy who gave way to Veronica Botts for the third leg.
Botts was running fourth, but Stuhr and Kadavy had her within striking distance as the pivotal lap began. The junior sprinted into the lead, then gave the baton to anchor runner Lee.
“It felt amazing” to fly by into first, Botts said between gulps of air and water after the race. “I knew we could do it.”
In the triple jump, York junior Hannah Riley went 33-1 ¼ and finished 15th.
Stuhr was 10th (2:25.34) and Emma Grenfell 11th (2:25.69) in the first heat of the 800. Josie Lee ran 19th (5:44.77) in the 1600.
“The girls scored 36 points and finished fourth in the team race,” said Perry.
Auburn won the Class B title for girls with 56 points.
Several Duke boys had PRs at state, too, including the 3200 relay (Friday) and 1600 relay (Saturday).
“Both ran their best times of the year,” Perry said.
Friday it was Ty Danielson, Cade Zumpfe, Dalton Obermier and Caleb Magner running the 4x800 to fifth in 8:17.659 as reported in last Saturday’s paper.
Saturday’s season-best time in the 4x400 for Evan Neville, Danielson, Blake Bailey and Magner of 3:27.80 was good for sixth.
“C.J. Huber pole vaulted 14-4 to place second,” said Perry, adding that senior Blake Woodruff “ran PRs in both the 3200 and the 1600, but did not medal.
“Ty Danielson ran 1:59.73 in the 800, another PR, but finished ninth,” he said, one place shy of a medal.
Danielson won the first heat and shaved some three seconds off his previous fastest 800 in the doing.
“I figured it was the slow heat and I had nothing to lose,” he said of the all-out effort. The junior said he kicked with about 300 meters to go and gained the lead.
Neville landed 10th in the long jump with a best mark of 20-3 ¾.
The Duke boys finished 18th in a field of 41 Class B squads. Elkhorn South took the boys’ championship with 59.5 points.