Kate Hall takes a bite out of the big apple

Kate Hall of Casco

Kate Hall of Casco

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Kate Hall had a realistic goal as she headed to New York City to compete in the New Balance national indoor track meet.

“My main goal going was to do decent. I wanted to end on a good note for my last meet of the season, so even if I had done average for me I would have been happy,” the Lake Region sophomore said. “Beyond that though, I was aiming to break the Maine all-time best for the 200 meters and the 60 meters.”

Kate ran the 60 meters in 7.82 seconds, which was just off the all-time Maine record of 7.76 set by Logan Crane in 2004.

“I didn’t get the 60m record or make it to the semifinals, but I still have two more years to try to break it at Nationals,” she said.

Kate posted a 18-feet, 6.5-inch long jump, which improved on her all-time Maine best by one inch.  Her jump earned Kate seventh place. She broke her own mark of 18-5¾ set last week at the New England championships.

“Making finals in the long jump and breaking the Maine long jump record again was definitely more than I could have asked for,” Kate said.

On Friday, Kate shattered the all-time Maine record in the 200 meters with a time of 24.81 in the trials. She posted a 24.88 in the finals, which placed her third in the Emerging Elite division. The old Maine record was 25.46 by Logan Crane.

“I achieved the 200m record, which I am more than happy with,” she said. “I was most nervous for the 200m. I’m usually most nervous for that race because it’s the longest and I tend to get pretty tired at the end. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. I had been mainly training for the 60m after States, so I wasn’t sure if my times were going to be any faster.”

Right before the race, Kate felt “the most nervous I had ever felt before.” Her competitors were very quiet and that was a bit intimidating to Kate.

“I took a few deep breaths as I heard my name being announced over the loud speaker. I took my time getting into my blocks and relaxed. My start felt better than it had all year. My head stayed down out of the blocks and I took my time coming out of the drive phase. I felt myself gaining on the competitors ahead of me, and as we came to the last turn I was ahead,” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw I had run 24.81 and made it into the Emerging Elite Finals.”

The finals were supposed to be in the next hour, but the meet was way behind and that was to Kate’s disadvantage.

“It was hard getting motivated to run it all over again after sitting around for three hours,” Kate said. “Finally, at 6:30 at night, I ran in the finals and placed third. I didn’t run as fast as I had in the prelims, but I was ecstatic that I had placed third.”

The 60-meters was scheduled early the next morning. It was hard getting up at 5:30 a.m., Kate said, after being at the track for seven hours the day before.

“That’s how competing at Nationals works, after all. It wasn’t hard to wake up and prepare for running the 60m, but it was difficult warming up and getting mentally prepared to run it,” Kate said. “The atmosphere was so much different from the 200m. I was in the championship event for the 60m, which means I was competing with the best of the best, in contrast to competing with a lower level of athletes in the 200m (Emerging Elite).”

Kate was seeded second in her heat, but ended up coming in third after having a not so great start.

“My 7.82 time did not enable me to move onto semifinals like I had hoped all along and I was a bit disappointed, but I realized it was such a great opportunity to even be at Nationals,” she said.

Kate found it difficult to get into the right mindset for the long jump after not competing like she had hoped in the 60m.

“An hour before my last indoor event of the year started, I realized that I needed to get motivated to jump well. I told myself that this was it, and that I could do this,” she said. “I took a minute to get frustrated at myself for not being motivated for the 60m and then cleared my head and got pumped to do the long jump.”

Her first jump was 17-7; “a decent jump for me,” Kate said.

“I kept an eye on what other girls were jumping, and it seemed like they were mainly in the 17s as well,” she said. “My second jump I was way behind the board and ended up in the 16s. So far I was probably close to last in my flight, and I knew that I needed to jump really well for my last jump. After moving my mark up I jumped 18-6.5, which won the flight. That was so exciting for me, but when I found out I made it into finals I couldn’t believe it. Making finals at Nationals was a huge goal for me and I couldn’t wait to keep jumping.”

Kate was seeded sixth going into finals, but ended up coming in 7th when a girl jumped in the 19s on her last jump.

“I had just missed placing and being on the awards stand, but I definitely wasn’t complaining with the result,” Kate said. “I couldn’t believe I placed seventh in the Nation for long jump and I am already so excited to go back next year.”

Great opportunity

Competing at Nationals was an incredible opportunity that Kate will never forget.

“Not only was competing such a great experience, but just being there was mind blowing,” she said.

The meet was held at the Armory in New York City. There were four floors in the building where the track was. The first floor was where tickets purchased. It included an “enormous shop of things to buy.”

The second floor was the warming up floor where a huge hallway was used by athletes to prepare for their scheduled events.

The third floor was where the track is located.

“There was always music blasting on that third floor. You would walk in and you couldn’t hear a thing because the music was just so loud,” Kate said.

Finally, the fourth floor was where people would sit and watch.

“There were thousands of seats above the track. It was just the perfect place to watch everyone run,” Kate said. “Running on that track was unbelievable. The way it felt under my feet was unlike any other track. The atmosphere was truly unreal; the track itself, the way they announced everyone’s names before each race, the huge screen where it showed everyone running, and how there was always someone talking about who was winning each event as the event was being run. It was a great experience and a huge deal to even be there watching.”

Nationals was a learning experience for Kate.

“I learned a long time ago that I needed to take each event one at a time at meets, but I learned in New York that I need to control my emotions from event to event and not let my emotions from my first event carry over into my next event,” she said.

After running the 200m, Kate was so happy that she had beaten the all-time best Maine record and set a personal record that it proved very difficult for her to prepare to run at an even higher level the very next morning.

“I couldn’t get myself motivated to run 60m the next morning because I was still overwhelmed from the previous night,” she said. “The biggest thing I learned, however, is that I can’t let myself get too disappointed about not doing well in an event to a certain extent. I realized that it is actually a good thing to realize I could have done better and that it’s okay to be frustrated. Even though I do need to control how happy or sad I get after each event, I learned that it is okay to feel both to a certain extent so that it can motivate me for the next event without getting to me too much.”

Now, Kate will turn her focus to spring track. But before she closes the book on an incredible winter run, she wants to extend her appreciation to those behind her successes.

“I want to be sure to thank everyone who supported me throughout the year. It really means a lot to know that people are supporting me even if they can’t make it to the meets,” she said.