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Track: Worth the wait – Relay with 3 seniors keeps bringing in medals

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, March 15, 2017
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Fast Four

FAST FOUR – The Decatur 4×400 team of Christian Isaac, Hayden Bennett, Payton McAlister and Kooper Joplin has won twice in three races this year. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Hayden Bennett and Payton McAlister spend most track meets waiting and waiting until the final event of the night.

While other athletes are packing up for the night, the pair of Decatur seniors take the track with fellow senior Kooper Joplin and junior Christian Isaac for the 4×400.

“This is all I do,” Bennett said. “It’s always been my favorite race.”

Running together at three of the Eagles’ four track meets this season the quartet has won twice and finished second in the other. Their best time is 3:33.96 at the Eagle Relays.

“Our goal is to get under 3:30,” McAlister said. “We’d like to get to state. We have to get around a 3:27.”

Decatur coach Cade Wartes expects the group to build off the strong start and continue to drop time. The District 9-4A meet is April 12 at Argyle.

“They are doing a great job. They are ahead of where we are usually,” Wartes said. “They’ve bought into the training and really have made [the event] their own. I think they can drop some time in the next month.”

To have three seniors on the relay is unusual. It also make it even more special for the group.

“We all have a bond from playing football [together],” Bennett said. “We work well together and want to give ourselves the best chance to win.”

While Bennett and McAlister are only on the 4×400, Joplin is running the 4×200 and 200. He’s quick to point out what’s his favorite.

“I love the 4×400,” Joplin said.

Isaac, a standout in the 800, relishes the a chance to run with the three seniors in the race.

“It’s amazing to have some good, talented teammates,” Isaac said. “It feels great to have the older guys to run with. I know they won’t let me down.”

Joplin runs the first leg and hands off to McAlister. Bennett takes the third leg and gives the baton to Isaac to bring home.

“I’ll find every bit of energy to drive it in and fight off other teams,” Isaac said.

The seniors have a lot of confidence in the group’s lone underclassman.

“He’s incredibly good. He runs an 800 in almost two minutes flat,” McAlister said.

In their workouts for the race, they push each other hard as Joplin can attest.

“We’re working hard in practice. I throw up every day,” he said.

That hard work is needed for the all-out 400 meter sprint.

“It’s probably the hardest race,” McAlister said. “But at least we can count on each other.”

The Eagles could also be counting on the quartet to bring home hardware at a tough district meet with 20 points up for grabs at the end.

“The most points come from that,” Bennett said.

It makes a long night of waiting worth it.

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