Laura Yarrow had already earned her ticket to the state track and field meet, so Friday she decided to help bring a teammate along for the ride.
Yarrow, a senior at Pine Creek, came into the Colorado Springs Metro League Championships at Garry Berry Stadium ranked third in the 1,600-meter run having already achieved a season-best time of 5 minutes, 4.48 seconds. Her teammate, freshman Kaleigh Kroeker, was on the outside looking in.
“I love that little girl; she's been working so hard,” Yarrow said. “She really wanted to go to state so this meet was really important for her.”
Little is right. Kroeker is a barely-5-foot-tall bundle of energy who also competes in triathlon during the summer. She started the season running a 5:23 in the 1,600. A week ago, she clocked a 5:15. That got Yarrow and Kroeker into a conspiratorial mood.
“Their goal today was to get Kaleigh qualified,” Pine Creek coach Max Oliver said. “She ran a 5:15 last week so we thought we'd give it another good shot and she got that 5:12. It should make the (state) field.”
So rather than try to grab the top mark in Class 5A, Yarrow worked on maintaining a pace that would push her younger teammate.
“She's just a freshman and she doesn't know how to pace yet,” Yarrow said. “For the first three laps, she stayed right behind me, right by my side. We were given a specific time for the 800, a 2:35, and I actually got that exact pace.
“The last lap I decided to take off and hope she did the same. Just go full-out on the last lap and hopefully get her the time we wanted her to get.
Kroeger's 5:12.29 put her in second place for the meet and likely prolonged her track season for another week. She was grateful that her winning teammate was there to help.
“The third lap of the mile is what really gets me,” Kroeger said. “I had a lot of help from (Yarrow).”
Yarrow has strong state-qualifying marks in the 1,600, 3,200, 800, 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay. She plans to compete in only four events at state, forgoing the 3,200. That all-around performance is remarkable since she suffered a stress fracture this past summer that made her cross country season a lost cause.
She's recovered so well that she earned a scholarship to compete for Tampa next season.
Since she's just a freshman, Kroeger will have to wait a while to go along for the ride.