Arizona women's relay team heading for the record books
What comprises a University of Arizona record holding women’s 4x400 relay team?
Four very fast individuals who have had tremendous individual success and are all determined to achieve the same goal.
The first leg of the record holding team belongs to Tatum Waggoner, a sophomore out of Phoenix, Arizona.
Waggoner’s individual events consist of the 200 meter dash and the 400 meter dash. Waggoner is easily having her best season yet this year for the Wildcats. “I have done super well this year so far,” Waggoner said. “I’ve had faster times this year during the indoor season than my outdoor season last year and typically outdoor times are faster.”
This is Waggoner’s second year competing on the relay team for Arizona. Waggoner enjoys running the first leg, “It is a lot of pressure for me but I have to set off the flow of things for the whole race,” Waggoner said. “I take this pressure seriously and it pushes me to run faster and harder.”
Nnenya Hailey, a senior hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, runs the second leg of the relay. This school record isn’t Hailey’s first, as she also holds the University of Arizona school record in the 60-meter hurdles.
Alongside the 4x400 relay and 60-meter hurdles, Hailey competes in the outdoor 100 and 400 meter hurdles. This year is Hailey’s third year on the Arizona 4x400 relay team, enjoying the event the most this season.
“Originally I competed in the relay as an extra way to stay in shape,” Hailey said. “This year we saw our potential and knew we could be something special, the relay is now more than just a workout for me.”
The third leg for the Wildcats is run by Gia Trevisan, a redshirt senior from Irvine, California. Trevisan competed on the relay team last year for the Wildcats. Trevisan runs in the 200 and 400-meter dash for the Trackcats and is having her best year yet, crediting her success to her coach.
“My relationship with my coach is very good and has been for the past three years,” Trevisan said. “I’ve had my ups and downs in track but this year has just been ups so far.” Trevisan prefers to run the third leg, as she likes to watch the first two legs compete.
“I get an adrenaline rush watching Tatum and Nnenya run and it makes me want to run hard and set up Sage for a good finish,” Trevisan said.
Rounding out the relay team is Sage Watson, a redshirt junior who transferred from Florida St. Watson is competing in her first year for the Wildcats.
An Alberta, Canada native, Watson aims to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 4x400 relay and 400 hurdles for her home country.
Watson’s first race for Arizona this season was the 500 –meter race in which she broke the University of Arizona record and set the nation’s best mark, which now sits at second in the country.
Watson has had tremendous individual success, competing in the World Championships in 2015 and competed in the NCAA championships during her track span at Florida St.
Watson knew the capabilities of the relay team when she saw how well everyone performed individually.
“I told the other girls at the Don Kirby invitational that if we all ran hard like we did in our individual events, we could break the school record and even go to the NCAA championships.”
Forming the team
Prior to this year, Hailey, Trevisan and Waggoner all ran together on the relay team for the Wildcats. The team just wasn’t coming together like it did this season. Injuries and fluctuating who was running the relay for the Wildcats never let the relay team meet their full capability.
Watson, the Florida State transfer, knew she would run the 4x400 relay as this was discussed in her recruitment.
“Last year we couldn’t find the right pieces to go where,” said Waggoner. “Now we have Sage and she was the last puzzle piece we needed. The first time we ran together it all clicked.”
It was only a month ago, at the Don Kirby Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that the team ran its first meet together.
Each one of these runners excel at their events individually, but being successful as a team takes more than being a good individual competitor. Watson credits the success to the tenacity each runner has and their respect of one another.
“We all respect each other and want to be successful in our individual events,” said Watson. “We respect each other’s events and that respect is shown in the relay team.”
Record breaking feeling
All four of these athletes now are University of Arizona record holders. The runners were aware they had broken the record nearly immediately following the race at the Don Kirby Invitational.
Waggoner recalls having immense excitement following their record breaking performance.
“It was just a phenomenal feeling, I felt like I was on cloud nine,” Waggoner said. “When we first did it we were in shock and felt so great that it had happened.”
As for Hailey and Watson, they both hold individual school records to go with their relay school record.
“It’s pretty cool that we broke the record,” Hailey said. “It is awesome to have two school records. Having this record as a team is great.”
Watson recalls breaking the record the first time; the former University of Arizona 4x400 relay record holders were there to witness it.
“It was special because the record holders prior to us were there for the meet,” said Watson. “They were happy for us and saw us break the record. It was really cool to break the record as a team.”
NCAA Championships on tap
The relay team will be traveling to Birmingham, Alabama to compete in the NCAA Championships. There the team will seek to break their record once again and finish as high as possible against the countries best competition.
The girls like their chance, as they feel this will be their best run yet.
“I think we will do awesome, if everyone gets on their grind we will shock a lot of people,” said Hailey. “It will take 3:28 to win the race and I think we can run 3:30, I can see us finishing in the top three.”
One thing all the runners feel will happen is that they will be first team all American In the event. To finish first team all American they must hold a top-eight time in the country, with their current time sitting at seventh in the nation.
“It is a pretty big deal to be a first team all American in division one,” Watson said. “I would love to finish in the top five for the event.”
Looking past nationals, the girls also seek to break the outdoor record and once again compete at nationals for the event.
“I’m really excited for outdoor because we can break the outdoor record as well,” Trevisan said. “We still have three months for outdoor to get better.”
The NCAA championships will be March 11th and 12th.
Look for the women’s 4x400 relay team to attempt and break their record once more and finish among the nation’s best.
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