By Arch Bell
On a campus where champions have been crowned all year long, the Lake Travis girls track team has seen their day finally come.
Six members of the squad will be heading to Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas to participate in the pinnacle of Texas high school track competition in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays Friday at the UIL State Track & Field Championships. Delaney Maberry, Kia Neel, Abby Moss and Hannah Moss will compete in the 4×100 while Claire Howington, Cody McCrary, Maberry and Abby Moss will represent their school in the 4×400 relay.
In a sport where participants train in near anonymity for just seconds of glory, it takes a special kind of athlete to have the fortitude to accomplish their goals. For McCrary, a senior who is bound for the University of Texas next fall, this Lady Cavs squad will not only be up to the task of competing against the best from Texas but also thrive on such a big stage.
“To be able to go to state is a huge thing for us,” McCrary said. “A lot of people don’t know the different aspects of track and the different levels to get to state. It’s such a different meet when you get there. Everyone is so good and the stands are crazy and it’s the best place you could run. It’s a dream come true.”
McCrary said those words while flanked by seven other members of her team. Going around the table, there was a palpable appreciation for each other and what each runner brought to the table. Each remark accompanied by nodding heads. A runner like Neel feels that the mental makeup of a relay team is critical to its success.
“To compete in track is demanding,” Neel said. “It takes a lot of training. You have to have the discipline to get to the level where you want to be at. It’s not just fun and games. We’re very serious at practice and at meets because we have our eye on the prize.”
One of the most important aspects of a relay team that can be overlooked is the hand-off of the baton between runners. Even at the Olympic level, batons can be fumbled and medal-winning opportunities slip away.
But that does not seem to be a problem for this Lady Cavs team. It goes back to the understanding that they have with each other on the track and in the middle of competition. Howington says there is a confidence that everyone will fulfill their duties.
“You’re not thinking about [dropping the baton] because once you’re off you’re just thinking about your run,” Howington said. “You don’t notice you have the baton in your hand until you’re about to hand it off. Once you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone. You don’t think about it. It’s natural.”
Much like Howington’s viewpoint on a clean baton hand-off, Maberry shares that sentiment about her races. Essentially, the sophomore speedster is all calm and composure when the time comes to lace up her spikes.
“I really don’t have a problem with getting nervous because I feel like I’m going to go out there and do my best,” Maberry said. “However I perform that’s the best I could have done that day so I really don’t let nerves get the best of my run.”
On a team that is such a close-knit group, it only makes sense that two of its members should be sisters. Together, Hannah and Abby Moss have paired up to anchor the final two legs of the 4×100 relay. As a senior, the state track meet will be Hannah’s final time in a Lake Travis uniform. One of the joys of this superb season for the elder sister has been the ability to race with her younger sister.
“Abby and I say that whenever we have a handoff we have a connection since we’re sisters,” Hannah said. “I love competing with her and I’m going to miss her a lot next year.”
For the younger Moss, training this season with Hannah has brought out some of her best running.
“We’ve always trained together so I always get better with my sister,” Abby said. “She really pushes me to do my best.”
The Lady Cavs will run both relays Friday, with the Class 4A girls 4×100 race scheduled to start at 6 p.m., and the 4×400 is set to begin at 9:05 p.m. at Mike A. Myers Stadium.