At the beginning of the indoor track season, sophomore Erin Chelf’s focus for the season was staying fit and avoiding injury for outdoor track. Two months later, Chelf accomplished much more, finishing on the leader board in the state championships with an eighth place finish in the 800-meter run.
Chelf entered the Feb. 21 race seeded seventh in a crowded field of 15 runners, aiming to finish in the top seven and broke her season-best of 2:25.40. Fifty meters into the race, she was stuck behind the main pack of runners.
Despite the difficult position, Chelf steadily moved up and positioned herself behind the leaders. When the first pack of runners broke away, Chelf stayed ahead of the rest of the field and held onto the blistering pace. In the final straightaway, she shifted gears and edged out a competitor from Whitman at the finish line to place eighth in 2:26.99, becoming the first athlete from this school on the girls’ side to score in the state meet since Gwen Shaw in 2013.
“It’s awesome to have somebody do so well at the state meet,” head coach Matthew Davis said. “Our goal going into it was just being near the seed and try to beat somebody that you’re not supposed to beat and try not to let anyone else beat you. It’s really, really hard to run fast when there are 15 girls in a race. She beat some really good runners. We’re satisfied with it, and I hope she’s hungry for outdoor [track].”
Chelf was satisfied with the result but also learned from her first trip to states. “I’d improve my start and not settle into my pace as quickly and get out more, and also try to move up on the third lap because I thought I could’ve done better,” she said. “For what I did well, I thought I stayed on the shoulders of people pretty well and on the last lap I felt like there were people coming and I sped up, so I thought that was good.”
Junior Ambrose Devine also qualified for the state championship but was unable to place on the leaderboard. Devine, whose miraculous 55-meter hurdles performance at the 4A West Regional meet qualified him for the state meet, couldn’t find his rhythm during the preliminary 55-meter hurdles event and his official time wasn’t enough to qualify him for finals. If that wasn’t disappointing enough, Devine was disqualified for running in the wrong heat, voiding his result.
Both Chelf and Devine will be back in action during the spring competing in outdoor track and field and aiming for states. If this past season was any indication, Patriot track and field has a bright future.