By Josh Brown
COLUMBUS — The Tippecanoe girls 4×800 relay team didn’t finish as well as it likely expected to Friday.
You would never have known once the race was over.
The team, comprised of one sophomore in Makenzie Dietz and three freshmen in Jillian Brown, Katie Taylor and Kaili Titley, soaked in the entire experience of running on the biggest stage in the state, finishing 14th in a time of 9:47.17 at the Division II state track and field meet Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
And their first time at the state meet was an eye-opener.
“I was getting chills just walking out to the start line,” said Dietz, who ran the first leg of the race. “Even though we didn’t do our best, it was still incredible.”
“It was so amazing,” said Titley, the anchor leg. “It was so loud. There were so many people watching.”
“… And now we’re excited to get to eat,” Brown said, drawing a knowing laugh from all of her teammates.
The Red Devils performed well throughout the postseason, winning a district championship and then finishing second in the regional to defending state champion Alter. Tippecanoe brought a regional time of 9:37.97 into the race — but the sweltering afternoon heat didn’t do anyone on the track any favors.
“The heat was definitely a factor,” Dietz said.
The Devils were roughly 13th at the first exchange and 15th at the second. Taylor made up a little ground on the third leg and handed off to Titley at the final exchange in 14th place, and Titley held on to that position from there.
Most of the girls competed during cross country season, as well, where the Red Devils finished second as a team. But Friday was an altogether new experience.
“In cross, there’s only a big group of people watching you at certain times on the course,” Brown said.
“Everyone is there all at once. It just seems bigger,” Dietz said. “There was a lot of pressure during cross, too, so it prepared us for this. And we bonded more as a team, too.”
“For our first time here, it felt pretty good, even though we didn’t do as well as we’d hoped,” Brown said. “It was a fun experience.”
And the Devils won’t have to wait until next year to come back, either — Titley will compete in the 800 Saturday after winning a regional title in the event. The weather may be different, though, as there are calls for scattered thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and even heavy thunderstorms by 4 p.m.
“I hope there’s a chance of rain tomorrow,” Titley said with a laugh after running in Friday’s heat.
“But we’ll all be back here to support Kaili tomorrow,” Taylor said.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.