ROXBURY – When you finish this article, you need to log onto your computer, go to "youtube", type in "Bay State Running", then click on "Division 3 State Relay Meet" and fast forward to around the 1:42 mark.
Yes, you need to do that.
You need to do that, so these words can be backed up of what a group of four girls – a junior and three freshmen – were able to do, in particular the junior, Makayla Paige, who ran arguably her greatest race in a Tewksbury uniform, and that certainly says a lot considering she is an All-American and the reigning Massachusetts Gatorade Athlete of the Year.
The group of Carrina Barron, Jamie Constantino, Emma Jensen and Paige were crowned the Division 3 State Relay Champions in the sprint medley race held on Sunday at the Reggie Lewis Center.
The four combined for a time of 4:09.69, which was a half of a second off the school record time set in 2010, and also just shy of the meet of 4:09.1, set back in 1989 by Stoneham's four runners. It is also the No. 1 time in the entire state.
While the three freshmen certainly ran extremely well and certainly ran their hearts out, it was Paige who was absolutely electric, and who had the Bay State Running website commentator going berserk in excitement on every stride.
Paige came from sixth place, all the way to first place, winning by almost two full seconds, while running an 800-meter split of 2:06.1, the same time she ran at Nationals last spring where she finished third in the entire country.
And she did that by passing two great friends, and two dynamic anchor leg runners in her good friend Nicole Anderson of Billerica, who will be at Vanderbilt University, as well as Emma Sullivan, another one of the state's best runners from Shepard Hill.
“This team benefited from an absolutely bonkers 800-meter leg where Makayla dropped a 2:06.1,” said an amazed Fran Cusick, the team's head coach. “To put that in perspective, Makayla ran 2:06 at nationals last June and finished in third place in the country. To see that time in that context, this early in the season, was pretty astounding. For anyone who has not seen the race, you should look it up and watch it.
"I have to give a lot of credit to Emma, Jamie, and Carrina as well. They are all freshman, two of them are brand new to track and still don’t fully know what they are doing, and they ran very, very well here."
Paige has said repeatedly over the years that she gets pretty nervous before races. This time, it was three ninth graders who took that bill.
"My teammates were all ready to go and all that was needed to complete our plan was to race," said Paige. "Before the race everyone was nervous, and everyone was working together to calm each other down. At this point I knew we were going to accomplish something great. Whether with was by place, time, or something else, it didn’t matter because we all had each other to fall back on. Soon it came time for the gun to go off."
Barron went first and she and second leg Constantino went 200-meters each, before Jensen followed going 400 and Paige finished going 800.
"Our lead leg, Carrina, started and ran really well. She went out so strong and was able to stick with the other great runners in the race. Then our second 200-meter leg, Jamie, was off. I was so proud of the way she ran because from the beginning she fought with every step. Then it was to the 400-meter leg. Emma also ran really well, over the last few races, Emma has continuously dropped her time down. Today was not one of those exceptions. She was able to split faster than she has before, and gave to hand off in a position that I was still able to reach the front pack."
Paige had some work to do but slowly over the first lap-plus, she started to pass some runners, and gain considerable ground.
"I got the baton in my hand and I saw the first girl and thought ‘just try to catch one at a time.’ So I rounded the first turn and down the straight away, I caught the first girl," said Paige. "Now I had to deal with the gap standing between and the front of the pack. The first lap went by, and then the second. I had to make sure that my pace was not too quick, but I also had to ensure that before the third lap I reached the pack. On the turn before the straight away to the line, I heard the announcer say that I was closing on them with every step. I looked up and saw the group, and at this point I thought about my legs and I felt great. I just thought to hold on and stick with them."
Going toe-to-toe with the likes of Anderson and Sullivan, Paige still had nearly two laps to go.
"Honestly the third lap, I don’t really remember," she said. "But then at the beginning of the fourth, all I could think was wow, this really hurts and that I wasn’t sure whether or not I could pull it off. But I saw all of my teammates faces and each one of them were yelling my name and cheering me on. At this point, I knew that shying away from the challenge wasn’t an option because they all just raced their hearts out and I had no excuse to not do that myself. That’s when I made my move. I was nervous to make it then since both Emma and Nicole are fantastic runners, but I didn’t see any other good options."
On the second to last turn on the final lap, Paige made her move and passed her two friends, and came down the final straightaway comfortably ahead.
"Once I finished, the team came over to give me a hug, but I just collapsed to the ground," she said. "Looking back on it, that was really funny. I was so proud of how the girls ran. I told them before the race that every step mattered, and they put everything into each and every stride. I wanted to send a huge thank you to them for putting their hearts out on the track."
Shortly after that, the four of them were interviewed by Bay State Running.
"I was nervous, but I had so much faith in my team," said Barron. "It was a great time (that we all combined to get). I knew that I had no chance to conserve my energy so I just went all out."
Constantino said that she was trying to pass the one girl in front of her before handing the baton off to Jensen, who said, "It was a good race and I had a lot of faith in my team. I knew that if I failed, they would pick me up. It was a good race,” before she added, "I knew that (Makayla) had it in her."