It has only been one month since the 2019 state track and field championships, and one of the most memorable moments during that weekend was during the 4x100 event for McPherson High School.
The team of Autumn Allen, Janae Spaich, Jordan Bailey and Emma Ruddle broke a 27-year old record by running 49.36 at the track. What also made it special was that the former record holders of Paige Watkins, Deedra Duersken, Richelle Goscha and Kaley Glidewell were all in attendance to witness the whole thing.
While the 4x100 teams in the past came close to breaking their record, there was a right amount of pressure of which one was going to beat the time.
"I was nervous for them," Duerksen said. "Not for the record, just the gun, the whole atmosphere, and just watching them, and the handoff because that's a big deal thinking ‘oh gosh, are they going to drop it? Are they going to get inside the zone?’"
The former 4x100 sprinters reminisced the good times they had as former Bullpups while comparing back then to now. The ladies remembered the practices under former head coach Scott Schafer, and the timeless hours of working on their handoffs with their baton.
Goscha was the first leg, Duerksen had the second leg, Paige was third and Glidewell anchored. For the last two years they developed a chemistry that led to them to being state champs.
The 4x100 foursome credited Schafer for setting them and the rest of the girls on the track and field team to succeed.
"He did a good job of putting people where they will score points," Duerksen said. "He will look at where can we put someone, even if it was like two or three points, it didn't matter if it just are they going to win. It was where can we score points, so the team wins."
While they are not competing in an event, they are cheering for their fellow teammates. That was one of the ways to kill time since the Bullpups are there together and can't leave until the end of the final event.
"That's one thing about the track, you cheered everyone," Duerksen said. "It doesn't matter what event you're in. There are always three, four, five other teammates that are there that would cheer you on. You might be done, and you know, we didn't leave with our parents either. Everyone rode the bus, so you had to wait until the 4x4. That's when everyone was on the field cheering for them."
After graduating from McPherson, all four went on to doing track at the college level. Goscha went on to Wichita State University. Duerksen went to Butler County and then later Tabor College. Watkins stayed home and went to McPherson College. Glidewell, who still holds the record in the long jump, went on to Oklahoma State University.
Ironically, one of her top rivals, Tina Buckner, a former all-city league sprinter ended up on the same team, which was intentional by their coaches. Glidewell compared Buckner to Kalli Anderson from Newton High School, who beat Ruddle in the 100 meters during state.
All four went on to graduate with degrees and living out their professions while being devoted mothers and wives. Both Duerksen and Glidewell still live in McPherson.
Duerksen works for the McPherson school district, and Glidewell is an interior designer. Goscha and Watkins live in the Wichita area. Watkins is a physical therapist assistant and does marketing at a health company in Wichita. Goscha, who resides in Andover, does bookkeepings for both the Midwest Turf and Construction company and Diamond Archery, which are owned by her husband, Ryan Barkdull.
It was no coincidence the four reunited once again at Cessna Stadium not only as spectators but also supporting their children during the state championship. Just coming back to Cessna Stadium brought flashbacks in accomplishing a long-time record.
"The best thing about the record was breaking the record," Duerksen said. "The memory is way better than your name on the plaque, so I'm happy for the girls to get the chance to get that feeling."
Even when each of them went their separate ways, they remain in communication with one another. They also are grateful for what McPherson made them for all these years.
"My husband calls it golden town because he didn't grow up here and I always tell him about how wonderful it was," Goscha said. "In Andover, we try to get a booster club and trying to find supporters. It's not like McPherson where everyone is apart of the booster club. It's a whole different ball game. I think people are unaware of how awesome they have it here."
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page