AUSTIN — With 50 meters left in her anchor leg Saturday, Argyle’s Taylor Mueller was in control.
With a few meters left in Argyle’s Class 3A girls 1,600 relay, Mueller’s teammate Laine Lowry was already on her way to the finish line.
Mueller jumped into Lowry’s arms, as new gold medalists, as tears and emotions were running rampant because Argyle had finally exorcised its mile relay demons at the UIL state track and field meet.
“Over that last 50 yards, I just kept screaming to Brooke [Robertson] and Cassi [Hargroves], ‘We did it! We did it! Taylor is going to finish this!’” Lowry said. “When she came across the line, we just charged each other and grabbed each other and started celebrating. It was the greatest feeling.”
The Lady Eagles won the race in 3 minutes, 56.70 seconds, beating second-place Gatesville by more than a second and putting an exclamation point on the high school careers of Robertson, Lowry and Mueller.
The trio were capping their sophomore year in 2012 when they won a silver medal — the only medal in the event in Argyle history prior to Saturday.
But the Lady Eagles are no stranger to the event, as Saturday marked the sixth straight year they’ve competed in the event at state and the seventh in head coach Kathi Olson’s 10 seasons at Argyle.
“I’m speechless,” Olson said, failing to hold back tears. “We’ve worked so hard all year and done such a great job. They’ve really wanted me to challenge them and push them. This season, we wanted not to just make it. That can’t be the goal anymore. It has to be to get to the top of the podium, and they’ve done everything needed to do that.”
Robertson’s leadoff leg had the Lady Eagles sitting in third place at the first exchange, and that’s when Lowry went to work.
Olson said Lowry is a tailor-made second leg due to her elite speed and her ability to work the final turn with a slingshot effect. On Saturday, it worked perfectly. After Lowry ran her leg, the Lady Eagles led the rest of the way.
“Is she not incredible? She’s always the one that likes that second leg,” Olson said. “We want to make sure she gets a good spot on that inside before the curve and uses the slingshot momentum onto that final straight.”
Robertson, Lowry and Mueller have competed in the race at the state meet since they were freshmen, finishing fifth, second and sixth, respectively, over the previous three years. Until last year, they ran with Hargroves’ older sister, Darby.
Over the years, the expectation for the group has morphed from one of being happy to be in Austin, which is quite an accomplishment in itself, to an intense desire to win the event. Now, they finally have done it.
“When I got the baton, I looked back and saw how hard my teammates all worked, and I couldn’t help but go finish strong for them like they did for me,” Mueller said. “We do it all for each other. We knew we had a common goal, and we’ve been working for this since freshman year. I just knew I had to bring it home.
“It’s an expectation now for sure [to win]. We like the pressure, and it pushes us each year. We’re just happy to be a part of that and finish it off now.”
After three years of falling short, Lowry was still trying to realize what had just happened as the team gathered in the medalist interview tent at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
“It’s honestly a dream come true and something we’ve been working for since we were freshmen,” Lowry said. “Thinking back to my freshman year, it would’ve never crossed my mind that we’d win state. Now that it’s happened, it’s incredible. Tears of joy haven’t stopped flowing down my face.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.