You mix a lot of different elements together and if you do not have the right amount, it could blow up in your face. Luckily for the St. Paul Flyers, they have the perfect mixture of talent, brains, will and determination. The Lady Flyers have two relay teams in this weekend’s state track and field championships in Columbus. The Flyers will have a team in each of the 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay.
But there is one ingredient that the Flyers possess that brings everything together.
“Trust,” St. Paul junior Meghan Hedrick said. “We have to trust in each other and trust in our coaching. We have to trust that the handoff will be there.”
Hedrick trusts her teammates Lily Dowdell, Olivia Powers, Emily Baker and Gabby Scavuzzo. And they all trust her.
“You have to trust that they are going to be there,” Scavuzzo said. “Especially if it is in the 4x100. That is all about trusting your teammates and as soon as your hand goes back, the baton is going to be there.”
“A good relay is all about the handoff,” Powers said. “You don’t have to be the fastest runners out there, but if your handoffs are really good, that can make up a lot of time when you are running that race.”
The Lady Flyers use their trust to send a relay team back to state after having a representative in Columbus last year. They used a nice showing in the regional meet last weekend after finishing the 4x100 relay in 51.04 seconds giving them the best time in the event and the regional title. They took third in the 4x400 with a time of 4:02.95 giving them a trip back to state.
Hedrick, Baker, Powers and Scavuzzo were the members of the regional championship 4x100 team while Hedrick, Powers, Scavuzzo and Dowdell handle things in the 4x400. With three athletes doing both events, the mindset heading into each race has to be switched back and forth and the team has mastered it perfectly.
“In the 4x100, it is all about form because it is so quick,” Hedrick said. “You have to have everything down to one step. That one step can make a difference between a good and bad race. There is a lot more practice that goes into those handoffs.”
“In the 4x400, it is a lot more relaxed because it is a slower handoff,” Powers said. “It is more about the running and just doing your part to make sure the team has its success.”
Hedrick will also run in the 800-meter run and Dowdell is in the 1,600-meter run. Hedrick owns the school record in the event while Dowdell took second in the 1,600 at the regional meet with a 5:21.71 while Hedrick took third in the 800 with a 2:17.44.
Dowdell is just a freshman joined by three juniors and a lone senior in Baker.
“It is a lot different going down this year,” Dowdell said. “I have some of the best upperclassmen I could ever want to lead me. They have always told me to just go into every race confident even though I am a freshman. They bring it all together in the relay and I am lucky to have them as teammates.”
Baker comes in to her final high school meet of her career after missing last year’s state meet with a pulled hamstring. She spent most of last year’s season injured, but she was invited as an alternate on last year’s 4x100 state qualifying team.
“I love being able to run with them again,” Baker said. “I wasn’t able to last year because of my injury, but through it all, they never let me feel like I wasn’t a part of the team. Being back and running with them is just the best part of this entire experience.”
Baker is just hoping to end her career on the podium at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“It is a great way to bring a close to my senior year,” Baker said. “I am very happy to be able to run with the same girls I have been running with the last couple of years.”
As much as Baker would enjoy a ride off into the sunset, her teammates want to send her out on top just as much.
“It is what we worked towards all year,” Hedrick said. “I am so excited to get her back to state. That has been one of our goals all year is to get her back and send her out on top.”
The Flyers run in the 4x400 relay preliminaries at noon on Friday. They are in Lane 2 of the second heat. The 4x100 relay preliminaries are at 10:50 a.m. on Friday. They are in Lane 5 of the first heat. Dowdell and Hedrick will run in the finals of their events on Saturday. Dowdell’s 1,600-meter race kicks off at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday. She is in Lane 8a while Hedrick runs at 10:55 a.m. on Saturday in Lane 2b.
“We are really excited to go back as a team,” Scavuzzo said. “We are just pumped for that opportunity and we are fortunate to be able to experience it again. For me, I am just glad I get to go another year and experience it with my teammates. It is going to be a lot of fun.”
The great thing for the Flyers, it is a little bit of been there, done that this time around.
“It is a lot more relaxed this year because we already know how it is going to be and what the experience will be like,” Powers said. “We already know how crazy and exciting the atmosphere is so now we can just go down this year and worry about running since we know what it is going to be like.”
Take away the pressure from all of those ingredients and you could have yourself a surprise of a relay team.