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Girls' relay members set personal bests at Fresno Relays

Friends and family of the runners filled the stands as the athletes stepped up to the line and waited for the gunshot to signal the start. The campus runner shook out her feet and tried to stay calm, but her heart pounded harder and faster by the second.

The starter gun fired and silenced her nerves while she bolted from the start line. Yet about half way down the track, Michelle Nachtigall, ’04, tumbled to the ground bringing the hurdle down with her.

“My family and friends were all in the stands cheering me on as I totally ate it on one of the hurdles,” Nachtigall said. “I not only knocked down the hurdle, but I fell on the track and rolled a few times before getting up to finish the race. I waited to be embarrassed until after the race was over.”

Nachtigall expected a different outcome this year as she competed in the 100m hurdles on April 3 at Fresno State University campus.

“From my earlier track experiences, I learned how to be confident in myself and make every practice count,” Nachtigall said. “At practice I pretend I am running in an actual race to prepare myself for the real thing.”

Besides the hurdles, Nachtigall also participated in the high jump at the Fresno Relays where she placed 5th (4’8″). Nachtigall placed 6th in the 300m hurdles and 10th in the 100m hurdles.

“Fresno State has become a mental block because of last year,” Nachtigall said. “These last few weeks, I’ve been trying to cut down my time by taking only three steps in between each hurdle. When it came down to it, I wasn’t confident with the new concept, but I knew I had to overcome my fear.”

Her teammates Rosie Walker, ’06, finished 5th in the 100m hurdles (18.06) and Katie Ettner,’05, placed 8th in the triple jump (31′ 4″). While Walker, Ettner, Nachtigall and Mona Yazdanpanah, ’05, participated in the 4x400m relay, they did not place but improved their time by 10 seconds to 4 minutes 36 seconds.

Ericlee Gilmore, track and field coach, challenged his girls to push for their best and improve their individual times.

“I try to remind them that they are learning and maturing during the season,” Gilmore said, “and if they continue to work hard, good results will come. We have a young group of girls and in two years the team should be a lot stronger.”

The girls enjoy track but were nervous for the competition this week.

“Our team competed in the Fresno Relays last year and it was a really great experience,” Nachtigall said. “This year we competed against athletes that set national high school records.”

Running track in the spring is more than getting in shape for some of the athletes.

“I learn self-discipline and I push myself harder than I ever thought I could,” Yazdanpanah said. “I also enjoy the fellowship with my teammates and becoming a better athlete.”

Ettner endured an injury to her hamstring from the triple jump but pushed through the pain and still competed in the 4x400m relay.

“I pulled my hamstring earlier in the season and when it came to the triple jump on Thursday, I felt both hamstrings pull,” Ettner said. “The trainer gave me a massage to ease the pain and that’s when I decided to stick it out for the benefit of the team and run the 4×400 relay.”

Gilmore was upbeat after the Fresno Relays and and was proud of how the girls performed under trying circumstances.

“Coming away with two school records and three personal bests is nothing to complain about against such great competition,” Gilmore said. “I am always impressed and pleased when my athletes compete to win by giving 110%.”

The next track meet is scheduled for April 9 at Fowler against Mendota.

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