Jenks Girls 4x800m State Record Flashback

The 4x800 Girls State Record Flashback

Let's set the scene, it's the 2022 6a Track and Field State Championship in Ardmore, Oklahoma. This year for distance running in Oklahoma was a quick one all across the board, and for this meet, it was no different. 

The girls 4x800 was set to be a competitive and fast show down in the heat. Ranging right around 90 degrees, the day was much hotter than preferred. The heat certainly did not deter the times though, as it seemed like everyone was really flying on this day. The favorites going in were the Jenks girls. Having already held the state record from the year prior, they were ready to show out. A squad of four seniors made up the team set to run. These athletes, Avery Mazzei, Tarryn Lowry, Sophie Simmons, and Deborah Mazzei had all had successful high school careers up to this point, and were ready to end their high school careers on a high note. 

As the race began, the Jenks girls started in the front and never looked back. As the race continued on, it felt very reminiscent of the year prior. By the time the stick was handed to the anchor, Deborah Mazzei, the Jenks girls had a strong chance to re-break their state record. And per usual, Deborah Mazzei finished the job running a quick split and solidifying another state record for this group of athletes with a finishing time of 9:12.04.

This moment was a special one for the Jenks girls, and even as they all continue in their collegiate careers, they still think back to this historic day often. After this meet, all four went D1, Sophie Simons (Kansas State University), Tarryn Lowry (University of Oklahoma), Deborah Mazzei (Oral Roberts University), and Avery Mazzei (Oral Roberts University).  Below are some thoughts from some of these athletes!

Q) Having already broken the state record the previous year, how did that impact your approach to trying to break that same record again? Did you feel more pressure, or less?

A) Having already broken the record last state meet, I knew we could break it again so it gave me more confidence, but I also definitely put more pressure on myself going in to the second time around. We had nothing to prove the first time around, but the second time we had an expectation to break a record. All of our fitness levels were higher than the year before so we knew we were capable of the task which gave us confidence.

- Sophie Simons 

A) I personally felt less pressure having already broken it once. I knew we had the ability to break it again and i obviously really wanted to but I was also content with the fact that we had already done it once. 

- Tarryn Lowry

A) For me, there was less pressure to break the record again. I remember our goal was to go out there and just have fun. Leading up to the state meet we had each run times that would combine to be faster than our 4x800 record the previous year which was very exciting. I remember our coach, Coach Grady, was encouraging us to run our race and have fun. So that's what we did!

- Avery Mazzei 

Q) It was really hot that day, do you feel like that positively affected your race?

A) I personally felt like the heat was a negative factor. I enjoy the heat to a certain extent, but that day was a deterrent rather than a helper.

- Sophie Simons

A) I honestly like racing in the heat, especially more than the cold, but it was a rough day. We were super cautious about making sure we were all hydrated and cool as much as possible. 
- Tarryn Lowry

A) Running in the heat is tough but running in the dry Ardmore heat was a whole different level. We were constantly pouring cold water on our heads trying to keep our body temperature down! We knew though that we had trained many times in 100+ weather so if we could do it in the past we could do it now.

- Avery Mazzei

Q) Breaking a state record is a special moment, but what outside of the state record performance made that race a special one for you?

A) It was so special to me to be able to break a record with the girls I initially broke it with in the beginning. My teammates hold such a special place in my heart and it made winning it with them all the most special.

- Sophie Simons

A) My three teammates, Deborah, Avery, and Sophie were some of my best friends throughout my time in high school. We spent hours and hours on end together not only at practice and meets but also in our free time. Breaking the state record again was awesome but that race was also very special to me because I knew it would be the last time we all got to race together before we left for college. It was a super heart warming moment but also pretty sad.

- Tarryn Lowry

A) What made that race special for me was the fact that this was my last season of high school track. It felt like I had grown up with the girls on my team. We had run with each other almost everyday for 4 years. Many of my favorite memories of highschool were with those girls so it felt like the final hurrah before we all went to college. We were also praying that God would help us break the record so accomplishing that was an amazing gift!

- Avery Mazzei 

The 4x800m state record is one that will be difficult to break. For the Jenks girls who are all now well into their collegiate careers, it is a moment that they will remember for a long way to come. Now the question becomes, who will be the next squad to set a new state record?

Thank you to Sophie, Tarryn, and Avery for providing some context on their race. 

Thanks for reading,

Shawn Rutledge