As the track and field season went on, Abi Brown got stronger and better.
Brown, who just completed her sophomore year at WHS, was putting up her best times at the end of the season.
That trend continued at the MSHSAA Class 4 track and field championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, where Brown earned all-state honors in the Class 4 girls 800-meter run, recording a time in the finals of 2:19.06.
The top eight finishers in each event earned all-state honors.
“I felt like I ran a good race. Competing in the state meet gave me a lot more competition than I had in our district and sectional,” Brown said after receiving her state medal. “I got my PR (in the preliminaries), which was very exciting. I came back and ran hard today.”
Brown had the sixth-best time in the preliminaries, recording a time of 2:17.81.
“I was more confident today (finals) than I was yesterday (preliminaries). I was nervous yesterday,” Brown said. “About 30 minutes before we started, I was starting to feel it. I was a little scared, but it turned out OK.”
The 800-meter run used to be a finals event only. Preliminaries were recently added.
“Now that they’ve added preliminaries to the 800-meter run, it takes a lot out of the kids in the event,” said Washington Coach Mike Olszowka. “Most kids are going to run slower times on the second day.”
Olszowka said Brown gave an impressive performance on both days of the state meet.
“I knew Abi was capable of dropping her time at the state meet. To run 2:17 in the prelims was a great time. She never broke 2:20 before that race, so it was pretty impressive to break 2:20 in both of her races at state,” Olszowka said. “Her time wasn’t as fast on the second day, but she moved up to fourth place in the finals.”
A fourth-place finish was a thrill for Brown.
“Coach (Olszowka) told me he just wanted me to finish. So to get fourth place, it’s really exciting,” Brown said. “Fourth place was not what I expected, so that’s good for me. I was just hoping to get in the finals and medal.”
Olszowka said the 800-meter run is right up Brown’s alley.
“Abi was a hurdler all season. That’s what she wanted to do. We knew she was a mid-distance runner. She knew she was a mid-distance runner,” Olszowka said. “She did a lot of cross training. She really stepped it up at the right time of the season.”
Physically and mentally, Brown had what it took to succeed.
“Abi is mentally tough. She reminds me a lot of Rachel York (former St. Clair and Wichita State standout runner who Olszowka coached) as far as mental toughness goes,” Olszowka said. “She races with guts. There’s not a lot of strategy. She has the attitude that she’s going to win. If someone beats her, she’s going to remember who it was and do her best not to let it happen again.”
Brown enjoyed her experience at the state meet.
“This is a really huge meet. It’s so big. There’s a lot more people here than what we usually get,” Brown said. “It can me a little intimidating, but it’s really great to get here now because next year will be a lot less nerve-racking.”
Only a sophomore, Brown figures to become a better runner in the future.
“As Abi matures and gets older and stronger, she’s capable of accomplishing some great things,” Olszowka said. “She’s very active in school. We kind of let her do her thing, but when track season arrives, that’s our time and she steps up to the challenge. I’m looking forward to her next two seasons.”