The Nebraska Wesleyan women entered the weekend winners of six straight national championships in the 4x400-meter relay.
Three indoor titles. Three outdoor.
Each one of them is its own story, NWU track and field coach Ted Bulling says.
The Prairie Wolves wrote another story Saturday in Geneva, Ohio. Anna Frazier, Elizabeth Jones, Aspen Rolfes and Kaylee Jones teamed up to win the day’s final event in a season-best 3 minutes, 42.31 seconds.
It was the final chapter for the three seniors and Millard North grads -- Frazier and the Jones twins.
“We really, really focused on not getting emotional beforehand, just knowing that there was going to be a challenge,” Bulling said. “I don’t know if we were ever the No. 1 team (in the event) coming in (in past years). Even this year, we only had the second-fastest time during the regular season.
“We pride ourselves on being at our absolute best here at the national meet.”
The four NWU women were indeed at their best Saturday. Each ran season-best times on their respective turns in the race, and the team bested its seed time by four seconds. Kaylee Jones’ split was :54.697.
“With it being the last event, there’s pressure there, but also it’s just so exciting to go out and leave everything out on the track,” said Kaylee Jones, who along with her sister, has been a part of all seven 4x400 national championships. “We worked so hard for the entire season for this particular moment and we just knew we were ready.”
Rolfes, a sophomore and Lincoln Pius X graduate, gave the Prairie Wolves a nice lead on the third leg and gave way to the anchor, Kaylee Jones.
“I wasn’t really sure where people were at, but at that point in my mind, it was just the finish line,” Kaylee Jones said.
Williams (3:44.72), the Prairie Wolves’ closest threat, finished second.
The relay title lifted the Prairie Wolves to a fifth-place finish in the team standings, tying their best showing in program history. The NWU women finished fifth at the outdoor championships in 1991 and 1997.
Kaylee Jones was national runner-up in the 400, finishing in a time of :54.78. Her twin sister Elizabeth took fourth in the 400 in a time of :55.33.
Junior Ellie Beiermann finished fifth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, and the Prairie Wolves were seventh in the 4x100 relay. Lindsey Wisnieski, Anna Frazier, Alexandra Daniel and Rolfes were on the team.
Bulling and Kaylee Jones said, no doubt, there were emotions following the 4x400 relay. Later on, the team celebrated with family and enjoyed some ice cream -- a sweet way to wrap up a long run of national titles.
“Over the years, with the three seniors now, it’s so meaningful to go through the ups and downs,” Bulling said. “None of them were easy. Just so proud of them, how they stuck with things and done the training we’ve asked. Just a great group of girls.”
Elizabeth Jones finished her collegiate career as a 12-time All-American, and Kaylee Jones finished as an 11-time All-American.