Micah Neal, competing in the Girls 8-Under Division, did something no member of the Mach I Track Club has done since George W. Bush was still in his first term as president of the United States.
She brought home some gold from the recent USA Track and Field Junior Olympics in Lawrence Kansas. She is the first Mach I member to accomplish this since David Hebert did so in the 5,000 meters in 2004.
Neal, in fact, captured two gold medals. She won the 800 meters with a time of 2:40 and the 1500 with a 5:36.79.
Neal was one of five club members to compete at nationals. She also qualified in the 200 dash, finishing 30th with a clocking of 33.77.
Giselle Larsen (Girls 9-10) and Mayden Mitchell (Girls 8-Under) also posted top-10 finishes each. Larsen was sixth in the 1500, clocking a 5:16.40. Mitchell was eighth in the 800 with a 3:17.
Larsen also qualified in the 800, finishing 14th in 2:41, while Austin Christmas (Boys 17-18) was 40th in the 800 in 2:05.42 and 23rd in the 1500 at 4:16.72. Sadie Carey (Girls 15-16) was 33rd in the 1500 at 6:14.38 and 21st in the 3000 with an 11:46.26.
It was Carey's fifth straight year to compete at nationals.
Neal admitted being nervous before competing.
"My stomach hurt a little at the starting line, but once I started running it helped," she said, adding that the 1500 was her most challenging race. "There were people at my heels."
She added that it made her feel proud when the crowd began cheering for her in the 800, and that she was "tired and hot" upon finishing the 1500.
"As I watched Micah come down the back stretch of the 1500 I was thinking 'There comes two years of hard work and dedication. Speed and determination helped get her here and now she is collecting the dividends,'" Mach I Head Coach Lupe Torres said.
"And it felt so good to hear the roar of the crowd as she crossed the finish line in sub-5:40 fashion, well ahead of the field."
Prior to the meet, Mach I assistant coach Matt Mitchell said he believes the trio are going to someday be the fastest ever to come through the club. Their performance at nationals only served to strengthen his belief.
"I just kept thinking 'This is just the beginning,'" he said. "Giselle has been running or just four months and she finished just eight seconds away from a national record holder in the 1500.
"For young Mayden, I see the combination of speed and endurance that she has, and I know that she dropped 18 seconds from her 800 time in just one year, which is a great sign for the future as she continues to mature as a runner."
VAULT CATS DUO COMPETES AT ELITE MEET
Two members of the Vault Cats pole vaulting club competed at the USATF Junior Olympics. Not only did Leah Rogers and Zach Davis compete against other vaulters, they also had to deal with some tough weather.
"The weather in Kansas didn't help us out much. It rained during Leah's group, to the point that one girl, after she went out at 9 feet, they stopped the competition and it was nearly three hours before they were able to start," Coach John Rhodes said.
"Then during Zach's group on Saturday we had a very unusual east wind which blew across the runway but would swirl into a head or tail wind, This made the run up and pole selection hard. One of the top entries failed to clear a bar on the crazy wind."
Still, Davis cleared 13 feet, 7 inches for sixth place in the Boys 15-16 division. Rogers cleared 8-6 for 16th among the Girls 13-14 division.
"Overall, though, it was a great week and I was very proud of the way they both competed," Rhodes said.
Davis' family is from Kansas. Rhodes said he had about 30 vocal fans encouraging him.
Davis will be a senior at Aledo High School this fall and Rogers will be an eighth-grader at Aledo Middle School.