Kenai Central's Lierin Flanagan ran a 55.95 400-meter dash on Saturday at the state track and field meet at Lathrop High School, shattering the former record by more than a second. Bartlett's Andrea Crook set the previous record of 57.14 in 2006.
"She just creamed it," Kenai track coach Tim Sandahl said. "She skipped through the 56s and into the 55s. She doesn't want anyone breaking it anytime soon," he joked.
Flanagan, who was named outstanding athlete of the meet, said she was speechless after seeing her time.
"Oh my gosh, I don't even know how to explain how happy I was," she said. "It was definitely the best experience I've ever had."
Flanagan said she had several people to thank that contributed to her record-setting lap around the track.
"I didn't do it alone," she said. "It's a lot of hard work that paid off."
As a senior, Flanagan said she wanted to run her hardest at her final meet as a high-schooler.
"I just kind of had that attitude, 'It was my last meet, I have nothing to lose,'" she said. "I guess I just left nothing on the track."
Kenai's 1,600 relay of Flanagan, Bailey Beeson, Leah Sandahl and Shaynee DeVito also set a new state record, running a 4:01.72. The foursome broke last year's record-setting mark, also set by Kenai, of 4:04.46. Flanagan, Beeson, DeVito and Kristi Louthan were on the 2009 relay team.
"Everyone just kind of knew what they had to do and worked their hardest for the team," Beeson said.
Beeson said the team knew Dimond was their toughest competitor. The Lynx were ranked first ahead of the Kards coming into the state meet. Dimond ran a 4:02.47.
Dimond was ahead for most of the race, Beeson said. Kenai fell as far behind as seventh, she said.
"Chasing after Dimond was quite hard, but it pushed us a lot harder, too," Beeson said. "They're the reason we got such a good time."
Beeson said Flanagan, who anchors the relay, caught up to Dimond's final runner in the last 20 meters of the race. Flanagan ran a 54.9 split, according to a split Sandahl received from a coach present.
"She just ran crazy," Beeson said. "It was really close."
Flanagan also won the 200 with a time of 25.86.
"It's amazing," Flanagan said of winning two individual events at state. "I've seriously been dreaming of that since I was a freshman."
Beeson took second behind Flanagan in the 400 with a personal best time of 58.46.
"Just following right behind Lierin is really making me happy, knowing that I could be where she is right now," Beeson said.
Skyview's Ivy O'Guinn won the 3,200 and 1,600. She finished second in the 800 behind Wasilla's Morgan Dampier, who set a new state record with a time of 2:13.95. West Anchorage's Kris Smith set the previous record of 2:14.56 in 2003.
O'Guinn ran 11:06.97 in the 3,200, nearly seven seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
"It was really good," she said. "It was a new PR for me by eight seconds."
In the 1,600, O'Guinn said she led the whole race. She finished with a time of 5:09.41, coming in more than four seconds ahead of the second place finisher. She also ran her personal best in the 1,600.
"My goal was to win the mile and two mile, so I was really happy about that," O'Guinn said. "It was a nice way to end my senior year."
Soldotna's Mariah Ulen placed second in the high jump.
Dimond won the girls team title, Bartlett took second and Kenai was third with just five runners.
"I'm just very impressed with our girls," Sandahl said. "We just had a lot of success."
The girls also won the sportsmanship award. Kenai's boys won the academic award.
Tyler Spalding, like Flanagan, won two individual events. He took first in the high jump and triple jump. He cleared a personal best 6 feet, 4 inches, in the high jump, tying the school record. In the triple, he jumped 42 feet, 2 1-4 inches. Spalding took fourth in the discus and long jump.
"He stepped up," Sandahl said. "It went very well for him."
Billy Kiefer took third in the 800.
"The meet went very, very well for Kenai," Sandahl said. "Mentally we showed up and physically we were prepared for what we had to do."
On the 1-2-3A girls side, Nikiski's Kassi Johnson won the shot put and took second in the discus. Megan Hansen placed third in both events.
Johnson's winning throw in the shot put was 34 feet, 2 1-2 inches, her personal best.
"It was pretty cool," Bulldogs track coach Dan Adair said. "She peaked right at the perfect time, senior year at the state championship.
"She was thrilled," Adair added.
Adair said he was happy to see Hansen and Johnson's hard work pay off at state.
"(Kassi) and Megan have put in tremendous amounts of hours of work in throwing," he said.
Cook Inlet Academy's Sadie Arneson took second in the 100. Megan Bauder finished second in the 400. The 400 relay team of Arneson, Cara Davidson, Megan Bauder and Lauren Bauder took first with a time of 54.72.
Seward's Allison Barnwell finished second in the 800 and 3,200. The 3,200 relay team of Barnwell, Kelley Sefton, Maggie Herbert and Kristina Atherton took first place with a time of 10:20.34.
Brianna Goins, of Ninilchik, placed second in the high jump.
On the 1-2-3A boys side, Seward's 400 relay of Evan Pullins, Jesse Atherton, Jacob Willis and Aaron Sorenson won with a time of 47.16. The 3,200 relay of Brett Chase, Austin Gillespie, Jared Lindquist and Andrew Buchanan finished first with a time of 8:26.50. Seward's 1,600 relay took third. Beau Crosby placed third in the discus.
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