It’s partially known as the “mad dash.”
That was what the scene looked like at Mount Tahoma Stadium last May when Rogers High sprinter Tyliah Fort barreled down the track in the final leg of the Class 4A final in the girls 4x100-meter relay.
That was really fun to be a part of, and seeing (Tyliah) getting ahead of everyone really had us excited. We wanted to break the school record.
The Rams took second place with a time of 48.58 seconds as Olivia Ellis’ outstretched leg narrowly crossed first to help Lewis and Clark’s team take the state title with a time of 48.53.
The Rogers relay team of Fort, Jelani Heath, Shaiyenne Monroe and Tammy Kayongo also finished fourth (1:42.46) in the 4x200 relay.
“That was really fun to be a part of, and seeing (Tyliah) getting ahead of everyone really had us excited,” Heath said. “We wanted to break the school record.”
The Rams’ relay time at state set the new Rogers 4x100 relay record. The previous record was set in 2009 by Nicole Jones, Sherelle Williams, Sydney Davis and Kishia Mitchell.
Relays have always been a high priority for Rogers girls track, but after last year’s results, the stakes could never be higher. So in steps Heath — last year’s teams’ only holdover — as fresh faces in Destiny Whaley, Kendra Spechts Essence Foster and Rebekah Barkley take aim at the challenge.
Every girl on (Rogers track) team wants to represent us in the relays. It’s a big deal to be selected.
“It’s really hard to get on Rogers relay teams,” Foster said. “Every girl on (Rogers track) wants to represent us in the relays. It’s a big deal to be selected.”
Foster understands what it takes to make it onto a crowded girls track team. Last year, she had to fight her way onto Lake Stevens High’s team.
But one transfer to Rogers later and Foster has become the spark of the Rams team. So far she’s been a part of the 4x100 (49.85) and 4x200(1:45.15) as the team placed fifth and fourth, respectively, on the school’s all-time list.
“They’ve been welcoming. I’m glad I joined the team,” Foster said.
This year’s Rams relay team has a common theme: youth.
But with Specht, a senior, on board, the youth has a chance to play up come postseason races, and that’s how these girls have planned it all.
“I’m not as fast as the other girls, but I’m steady when I run. I keep a consistent pace,” Specht said.
It’s more than just her consistency, but her leadership that will help push these girls into the next level a few weeks from now.
“Kendra is one of the calmest girls I’ve met,” Whaley said. “She never gets rattled.”
Whaley doesn’t need much encouragement or an outside force to help her tap into her vast amount of speed. All she has to do is look up at Heath for that.
“She works real hard in practice, as she’s our go-to girl,” Whaley said of Heath. “We don’t even need to talk to (Jalani) because we know she’s going to pull it in for us.”
If Heath is the team’s closer, then Whaley is the set-up specialist. It’s her job to give Heath enough room to fly.
“We’re all family that take the relays seriously,” Heath said. “It takes a team effort, and I know I couldn’t finish strong if everyone else didn’t have a strong race. It’s about Ram Pride.”
With Foster, Whaley, Specht and Heath all set to finish the second half of the track season with style, the Rams have not forgotten alternate Rebekah Barkley.
Barkley, along with Foster, Whaley and Heath have Rogers fifth best time (4:11.94) in school history. Either way it’s sliced out, who’s added to the team or who’s jumping in, the Rams have this years girls relay teams locked down.