GIRLS TRACK & FIELD

Illiana girls track team breaks program's 3,200-meter relay record

2012-05-16T20:00:00Z 2013-04-22T23:16:09Z Illiana girls track team breaks program's 3,200-meter relay recordBy Mike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com

LANSING | You could have knocked the baton out of their hands with just a light tap.

That is about how stunned the Illiana Christian 3,200-meter relay team felt when the foursome of Kristen Brink, Lauren Brink, Monica Smits and Alex Beezhold not only won the event at the Class 2A Hillcrest Sectional, but broke an 18-year-old program record.

They ran 9 minutes, 52.8 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 9:54.4 set by Rachel Clabaugh, Julie Huizenga, Jen Kreykes and Shannon Bult.

Even more surprised was coach Deb Top, who is in her 25th year as Illiana's coach.

"I thought that record would never be broken," Top said. "I was looking at my (stop) watch and realized they had done it.

"I figured that is one record that would have never been broken."

Top hopes to see it broken again, but not have to wait another 18 years.

"I hope they break this weekend at state," Top said.

Beezhold was the anchor and was in third place when she got the baton.

"When I go out there, I just want to beat the person in front of me," Beezhold said. "I got to second and then I beat out the Hillcrest girl."

But she had no idea what they had just done.

"It was a shocker," Beezhold said.

"We were not thinking record," Smits said. "We had done 10:09, so we really weren't that close to the time."

The hard work paid off and they will see what happens at the Class 2A state meet in Charleston, which begins Friday. Porter will run as one of the foursome on Friday, then will compete in the 3,200 run on Saturday. Beezhold is also in the 800 and Lauren Brink is in the 1,600. Emily Dykstra also qualified in the triple jump.

What has been a big part of the team's success is its chemistry. As Kristen Brink said, it is the little things.

"Like singing (songs) from One Direction and just having a good time," Kristen Brink said. "We're all business on the track, but we really are close and that pays off."

Porter, who will enter the Marine Corp., said it is the good-natured ribbing, but also the respect for each other.

"We all get along that is the a big part of  what we do on the track," Porter said. "We all know each other from cross country and it is important you have that chemistry."

Lauren Brink said it is a lot of fun.

"No matter if you are having a bad day, that all changes when you come to track," Lauren Brink said. "You are with your friends and you are here to work hard."

Smits said they are focused heading to Charleston.

"We want to do well and I think we are all focused on doing well at state," she said.

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