Today will be far from the first time Argyle seniors Brooke Robertson, Laine Lowry, Taylor Mueller and junior Cassi Hargroves will be running the 1,600-meter relay together.
If things go well today at the District 9-3A and District 10-3A area track and field meet at Argyle, it certainly won’t be the last time. The top four finishers in each event at the area meet will advance to the Class 3A Region II meet at Texas A&M-Commerce, the step before the state meet in Austin.
Over the past four years, the three seniors and a member of the Hargroves’ clan have advanced to state. When Argyle girls head track and field coach Kathi Olson stumbled across the four girls, intuition led Olson to slot the girls into one of Argyle’s most successful events.
“I think it’s just kind of a feeling of just knowing,” Olson said. “We’ve been to state in the [1,600 relay] quite a few times. This is my 10th year, and I think we’ve been seven out of nine times.
“It’s just a feeling I get about certain ones, knowing that chemistry they’re going to have.”
Those four girls hold the fastest time in the 800 relay (1:45.09) and the 1,600 relay (4:02.18) going into the area meet.
Back when the seniors were freshmen and Cassi’s older sister, Darby, was a junior, the 1,600 relay team finished fifth at the state meet. In 2012 the relay finished second behind Waco Connally.
Last season, with Cassi taking her older sister’s spot, the relay squad finished sixth with a time of 3:59.44, the slowest of the previous three years.
Coming into this season, the girls asked Olson for tougher workouts to put the squad in contention for a state medal. She didn’t have any problem obliging with the request.
“Once they said that, it was done,” Olson said. “I think I pushed them pretty hard anyways, but I think they really came forward and took the initiative and the ownership of making sure we get to that next level.”
Robertson, who along with Lowry were standouts on Argyle’s volleyball team, said running with the same group for so long has made this run special.
“It’s been really special,” Robertson said. “We have a bond, I think, because we’ve been running together since freshmen year and eighth grade, so it’s not just like a normal team. It doesn’t switch. We run for each other more than just running to win.”
The bond the relay team shares stretches beyond the track as well. Mueller said the four girls are all best friends who share activities like carb-loading after meets at Olive Garden and spending the night at each other’s houses.
The best friends and teammates said along with chasing another state medal, one of the main motivations the group shares is doing good for each other.
“When I’m in the race, I’m running for them,” Lowry said. “In the [1,600 relay], when I see Cassie, I’m just thinking I want to get to her. I want to run so I can run my best time for her, for Taylor, for Brooke.”
Robertson opens the relay before the baton is handed to Lowry, Hargroves and finally Mueller, a combination that has been successful so far this season. They ran a 3:58.98 at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays earlier this year, which, according to Olson, is the second-fastest time in Class 3A. Big Spring has the fastest time in 3A, Olson said.
When Hargroves picked up where her sister left off, she didn’t have any problems getting comfortable with the group of seniors. With a top-four finish today and a top-two finish at regionals, Hargroves will be one step closer to helping the graduating trio earn that elusive state gold medal.
“It would be amazing,” Hargroves said, “but it also sets a high expectation for next year, too. I would love to do that for them and for me as well.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.