Over the past few years, the sprints have not been the forte of the Effingham girls track team.
But at the Apollo Conference championships, the Lady Hearts got out of the blocks quick and rode their sprints to a second-place overall finish.
Effingham finished with 133 points, behind the conference champion Mattoon Green Wave’s 177. Coach Norene Ault said the team had hoped they could beat Mattoon, but it was still a great performance for her team.
“I had some girls with some very outstanding performances,” Ault said. “Sprints are not something we’ve been really strong in the last few years. We had great perfomances tonight.”
First and foremost was Kristina Rivera, who had a marathon afternoon of sprinting. She started fast and kept it up, winning the 100-meter dash in 12.94 and the 200-meter dash in 27.44 seconds.
Then, she turned her sights on the relays, where she anchored a first-place finish in the 4x200 and a second-place mark in the 4x100.
“Without her, they wouldn’t be as good as they were,” Ault said. “I was really impressed with her stamina.”
Shayna Phillips and the 4x400 team also took home a first-place finish, while Phillips took second in the 800-meter run and third in the 400-meter dash, also showing impressive stamina.
The Hearts took home another win with the 4x800 relay team, besting the field by nearly 10 seconds.
While Rivera and the relay teams were the only conference champions, a number of other Hearts came through with big performances, especially Bethany Donaldson.
Donaldson took third in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:47.28, easily besting her previous times.
“Bethany has decided to kick it in, she shaved over 20 seconds off her time,” Ault said. “She’s been running 6:07, 6:10. That was outstanding.”
Donaldson embodied a recent strong performance by the middle distance runners, as they’ve picked up their times thanks to help from former runners who have gone on to the college ranks.