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Fast foursome — Lady Tigers' 4 x 200 relay enjoying speedy start to season


Bria Wright was the lone underclassmen on Ozark’s 4 x 200 relay from a year ago. But it didn’t take her long this spring to feel good about the Lady Tigers’ chances to remain strong in the sprint relays.

“Ielana (Naihe) came in new and Jeneba (Pyle) came in as a freshman and I saw they were super quick,” Wright said. “I knew we we were going to have some good relays and good times this year.

“Last year we had a good team,” she added. “We have a lot of young talent this year and I think we’re going to be better.”

Ozark’s new-look 4 x 200 relay of Pyle, Naihe, Shelby Middleton and Wright nearly pulled off a stunning upset at Glendale’s Girls Nite Out Meet last week. The Lady Tigers were seeded third, but led most of the way and just missed out on a first-place finish.

Ozark finished second with a time of 1:47.84 to Republic’s 1:47.68.

The 4 x 200 relay included 26 schools.

A week earlier at the Branson Relays, the Lady Tigers posted a winning time of 1:47.15.

The foursome feel their exchanges are improving each time out.

"We had difficulty with them in our past races,” Middleton said. “But they were really good (at the Girls Nite out). We’re making a lot of progress.

But there is room for improvement.”

Middleton and Naihe are looking forward to the relay strengthening its bond throughout the season.

"When you watch someone coming up form being you and knowing when to leave and take the baton, there's like this sense where you become in sync with each other,” Middleton said. “I think that's because of how much we have worked with each other. Pushing each other and encouraging each other throughout practices builds a strong bond.”

"Trusting each other and knowing when to go and hand off really helps,” Naihe said. 

The Lady Tigers are optimistic they can make a strong run at the school record of 1:46.5.

“I think we can definitely get it,’ Wright said. “I wasn't as fast at the end as the beginning. If we can get more endurance, that will knock off a lot of time.”

With Ozark and Republic seeing each other at most meets throughout the season, the schools figure to have more classic confrontations.

“The more competition we have, the better we;'er going to get,” Wright said. “If you go out and win every time by a lot, you're just going to stay there. I feel like with good competition like Republic we're going to keep improving."