After three years of state championships, the current seniors on Hazen girls’ track and field know how to handle expectations.
“We’re kind of used to having the pressure on us,” Grace Zimmerman said. “It’s been like this for a long time and we’ve worked for it, so it’s really fun for us.”
The fun doesn’t just come from winning; it comes from winning with close friends.
“We’re all kind of like a little family, so we all get along really well,” Elise Hintz said.
The four dominant seniors are Grace Zimmerman, Raquel Doll, Katie Duttenhefer and Elise Hintz. Call them a family of sprinters, because they all specialize in the short distance events. Grace, Katie and Elise all run the 100 and 200 meters, while Raquel is a hurdler. And all four of them team up for the short relays.
“Elise starts our relay and Katie finishes every relay. They do a really good job,” Zimmerman said.
The foursome helped sweep the first three relay events at state last year. As for the solo sprints, it’s all but a guarantee Grace will be in the lead.
“One time I remember in middle school, Grace was way in front of me and Raquel, and we were just laughing right next to each other. ‘Yeah, go Grace!'” Hintz recalled.
And while Grace may always be ahead, the rest of the sprinting family isn’t far behind, especially when a state title is on the line.
“The 200 was actually one of my favorite races at state last year, because there was three of us running in finals,” Katie Duttenhefer said. “When we crossed that finish line, I just remember looking up at the board and just seeing one Gracie, three me, and then Elise five. And it was so amazing to watch.”
And when they all take a breather to watch Raquel in the hurdles, Raquel says it’s almost like they’re next to her.
“The support is a big thing,” Doll said. “Before each race, they’re always there pumping you up before you start, or in the middle of the race you can always count on a teammate screaming at you.”
Every cheer, every laugh, and every win brings them all closer together.
“I love my team,” Zimmerman said. “We work really hard to be where we are. Track and field is so mental that having those people alongside you to encourage you and be with you every step of the way is so helpful in practices and meets and everything.”
Hazen is scheduled to host a meet on Tuesday.