By Cam Huffman
On the wall just after going through the main entrance to Greenbrier East High School are pictures of the school’s state champions. There are teams, like the 2012 Spartan girls basketball squad, and individuals, like cross country champion Andy McClintic.
But nowhere is there a relay team.
That’s something the Greenbrier East girls’ 4x400 relay team is hoping to change when it hits the track at Laidley Field in Charleston Saturday at 4:15 p.m. for the Class AAA state finals.
The team is seeded fifth, after posting a time of 4:12.68 to win the region title last week in Charleston, but it ran a 4:07.17 at the Gazette Relays, the fastest time of any team this year, and is predicted by RunWV.com to finish second.
Washington High is the top seed with a 4:09.87 regional time, and the Patriots won the event last year with a time of 4:04.5.
“I think we have a shot to win it all,” said Lindsey McClintic, the third leg of the Greenbrier East team. “Last year, we came in seeded sixth, predicted to get fifth, and we popped out and got second. This is the best anybody out of our school has done. We’ve never run a relay at Greenbrier East, but I think last year they really got to know that we’re in there and we have a chance of winning it.
“We’re very pumped, and we want to be first.”
Head coach Wes Lilly is confident that’s a realistic goal.
“They’re all four focused,” the coach explained. “We have really good senior leadership with Ashley Morgan and Lindsey McClintic. Shaye Godomski placed in the 400 last year, and the addition of Maddie McClintic makes us strong. I have a feeling we’re going to run a 4:04 or 4:05 at states.”
Morgan will run the first leg for the Spartans, and she said her goal is simply to get her team off to the best start possible and keep the others within striking distance.
Then the focus becomes a clean handoff to Maddie McClintic.
“We try to stress our handoffs, because we don’t want to lose seconds where it’s easy to gain them,” said Morgan.
McClintic, the lone freshman on the team, runs the second leg, and she admitted it’s not easy being the youngest member of such a talented group.
“It’s really intimidating at times, because there are a lot of girls out there a lot older than me running crazy times,” she said. “But my teammates always calm me down, and I just think of the positives.”
Maddie’s handoff goes to older sister Lindsey, the third leg for the Spartan team.
“She’s a very team-oriented person, and she could compete in anything from 400 on down,” said Lilly. “But she’s a good team player and loves to run the relays.”
Bringing up the rear is Godomski, the Spartan closer.
“It’s kind of like baseball,” said Lilly. “We want to save our hot hand for the end of the race.”
Godomski has run sub-minute 400s this season and is at her best when there’s a gap to close.
“Personally, I run better when I run against people,” said Godomski. “I feel like it really motivates me when I have someone 20 or 50 meters in front of me. It just pushes me a lot harder. But you feel the pressure when you watch all the other teammates go before you.
“It’s the motivation thing to chase down the person in front of you. I have to get them before the finish line.”
If the Spartan team is able to be first across the finish line, Lilly said the team won’t have just won the medal, it will have earned it.
“They go through aches, pains and sickness,” said Lilly. “(Thursday) was supposed to be a day off, and they were on the track working on handoffs. They’re dedicated to it.
“One of the focuses this year was to get the blue. They’ve really worked and really trained to do that. That’s their drive, and normally they go out and do what they want to do.”
The teammates aren’t taking anything for granted, but they are already dreaming of what the scene would look like if they win it all Saturday.
“I would probably cry,” said Godomski. “I normally give out at the end, and my teammates rescue me from face planting on the ground. So we’ll all be together in a sweaty, sobbing mess.”
“It would mean a lot to me, because this team is all upper classmen except me,” added Maddie McClintic. “I want to do my best not just for me but to make sure they have a good finish to their career.”
It could be an ending none of them will ever forget.
— E-mail: chuffman@
register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.