By: Cooper Hughes

Going into the 2022 spring women’s track season, athletes had very high hopes. Coming off of successful cross country and winter track seasons, West Henderson felt this was their year to make some noise in the conference. Little did they know, they would do much more than that. The Lady Falcons flew through their conference on their way to a chance at a state title. West Henderson then used that chance to bring the program their first ever state championship. 

The West Henderson track and field program has had some great athletes in the past, but no team has quite compared to last years’. . To win a state championship, it is vital that your team has talented sprinters and distance runners, and the 2022 West Henderson women’s track team had just that. The team was highlighted by Emma Hall, who ran the 100 meter hurdles (Hall broke the school record in this event) ), the 300 meter hurdles, was a part of the 4×100 meter relay team, as well as being a part of the record breaking 4×200 meter relay team. Emma continued to shorten her times, even breaking her own records on multiple occasions. “I watched a lot of film,” Hall said. “Seeing videos of myself running is how I was able to correct my form and spot the little things I needed to work on.”  Hall went on to place first in both the 100 and 300 meter hurdles at state. The 4×100 and 4×200 relay team consisting of Emma Hall, Carlen Davis, Kate Leonard, and Jasmine Banks placed 2nd and 3rd respectively at the state championship meet. The relay teams were  the same for both events, meaning the athletes had to perfect their handoff timing for 2 separate distances. “It was tough to perfect the timing for both relays,” Junior, Jasmine Banks said. “Since the 100 is so fast paced, the handoff is very important. You also have a set place where you have to start running in the 100, whereas in the 200 you get a running start.” 

As mentioned previously, It is very important that a team has talented athletes in every event if they  want to be successful . West Henderson has had some very talented distance runners over the years, but last year’s runners stood out from the rest. The West Henderson 4×800 meter relay team placed 1st at the state championship meet, playing a huge role in West Henderson’s win. The relay team consisted of Freshman, Alysia Madera, Sophomore, Breanna Budzinski, Junior, Paisley Stepp, and Senior Ava Kilpatrick. “We worked super hard all season and set our goal to be top in the state early,” Budzinski said. “We didn’t expect to win a state championship until we placed 2nd at regionals. After that we all realized how far we could go and became very determined to win.” Budzinski also ran the 3200 meter race, where she placed 4th and also received the sportsmanship award.

The lady falcons track team’s improvement over the years has been eye opening. In the state meet two years ago, West Henderson did not score a single point. Fast forward one year, and the Falcons are state champions. “I was able to help the team by being present at practice every day,” Head coach and WNC coach of the year Faith Stoker said. “I tried my best to give them challenging workouts and push them to work hard. I also did my best to encourage every athlete and remind them that they were an integral part of our team. Truly, the team did this and I am just happy I could be a witness.”

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