By the time Cami Chapus received the baton from Lauren Hansson for the anchor leg of the girls' distance medley relay, the national high school record was almost a foregone conclusion for Harvard-Westlake.
During the final 1,600 meters Saturday night at the New Balance National Outdoor Championships, the only question that remained was how far under the previous standard would New York's Fayetteville-Manlius push the Wolverines.
The answer was a stunning nine seconds, as Amy Weissenbach, K.C. Cord, Hansson and Chapus delivered one of the most significant performances in U.S. prep track history to win the national title in 11 minutes, 22.23 seconds in Greensboro, N.C.
Harvard-Westlake, which placed sixth at last year's national final in 11:46.15, shattered last year's winning effort of 11:31.26 produced by Virginia's Blacksburg High.
Fayetteville-Manlius, which entered the meet as the national outdoor leader, also ran faster than the previous record to take second in 11:25.13, with fellow New York power North Shore placing third in 11:30.45.
It feels so good to accomplish something so special after the genuine blood, sweat and tears we have put in over this season and especially the last few months, not to mention the revenge and feeling of accomplishment that we unfortunately did not get to feel at state, Cord said. It feels amazing, but it was definitely not out of our reach (after our victory April 9 at the Arcadia Invitational Advertisement in 11:40.89).
Weissenbach split 3:24.85 for the first 1,200 meters, giving Harvard-Westlake a commanding five-second lead over the field, including Fayetteville-Manlius' Jillian Fanning.
It was an inspired effort from the two-time 800-meter state champion and National Federation High School record holder, who was at the center of a controversial disqualification on the anchor leg of the 4 x 400 relay June 4 at the state final that cost the Wolverines the championship.
I am so happy for our team. The national record is something that has been on our minds for over a year, and for everything to fall into place, especially after the 4 x 400 at state -- with the same four girls -- it means the world to us, Weissenbach said. It was our last relay together, and we made it count. And we can now look back on this season with a real sense of satisfaction and completion.
Cord clocked 58.46 seconds on her 400 split to maintain a three-second advantage over Fayetteville-Manlius, which had Katie Sischo -- a member of three Nike Cross Nationals team titles -- running the 800 leg.
Although Sischo split 2:11.28 compared to Hansson's 2:13.70 to close the gap to less than a second entering the anchor leg, Chapus let senior Courtney Chapman -- a member of four national championship cross country lineups -- close to within a few meters with one lap remaining, before covering the final 400 meters in 65 seconds to pull away for the title.
I am speechless, literally because my voice is gone and because I wanted this so badly for my team, Chapus said. We are extremely close and I can't imagine a team without Amy, K.C., Lauren and Hilary (King) on it. We ended that relay on the best note possible and I love my team.
The national record gave Harvard-Westlake four No. 1 U.S. outdoor marks this year, along with Weissenbach's 800 (2:02.04), Chapus' mile (4:42.71) and the sprint medley relay (3:55.12), which the Wolverines won Friday with King -- who took third Saturday in the emerging elite long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 9 inches -- joining Chapus, Hansson and Weissenbach.
All in all, it's still surreal, but I'm so proud of the whole team. If anyone deserves these accomplishments, it's Cami, Amy and Lauren, Cord said. I'm just so privileged to be part of something so special. I couldn't have asked for a better way to finish my career with these girls. We've built such a strong bond and sisterhood. It's the best feeling ever to end on such a high, amazing note