Relay team outruns record books

Senior track athlete Amilia Santos. Photo courtesy of Chico State.

Amilia Santos, Ashley Jones, Aja Erskine and Kasey Barnett make up the Chico State women’s 4×100 relay team. Together they have broken the school record in the 4×100 relay race and then beat it again.

All coming from different high schools, these four have found a record-topping formula for their relay team here at Chico State.

46.94 seconds was the time they placed in the Stanford Invitational to beat their previous record of 46.98 seconds, achieved at the Wildcat Invitational. The Wildcats were still getting in tune with each other during the invitational, as it was only the third meet of the season.

“We were all super relaxed because there wasn’t any real competition,” Barnett said. “I remember huddling up before our event and just saying how we need to focus on our handoffs. I had no idea we would end up setting a record.”

While time passed and the team polished up, they competed in bigger events like the Stanford Invitational, which consisted of mainly Division I runners.

“I was shaking and nervous before we competed,” Santos said. “It’s totally different competing at bigger schools.”

Nerves didn’t dampen their performance — it turned out to be a memorable one.

“I had no idea what happened,” Santos said. “It didn’t hit me that we broke our record until I saw Barnett jumping around.”

It took 21 seasons for the team to break the school record.

“We are underestimated a lot,” Barnett said. “It makes it really fun, especially how well we have been doing. We usually shock people.”

The four women strive to get better every day and continue the streak of broken records.

“No other team in Chico history has done this,” Erskine said. “We happened to do it twice. It’s mind-blowing.”

All four members agreed that the transition and timing of the handoffs is the most critical part of being successful. It’s no surprise to find them out on the track working on improving these handoffs.

“There are still places that we can improve,” Barnett said. “It’s really promising.”

These teammates are always pushing each other to get better, which reflects on their success.

“We are trying to blow our record away,” Erskine said. “I believe we can compete at nationals.”

The intensity and focus that is brought to practice makes them stick out from the rest.

“We are always on the same page and focused,” Jones said. “We are also really humble.”

Spending time together every day has built a strong relationship between the teammates.

“We spend so much time together,” Santos said. “Our team is so close.”

Not only do they have a good relationship within their relay team, but they are close with the whole program.

“This is the best team I have ever been on,” Barnett said.

While track and field may be typically seen as an individual sport, they disagree.

“At Chico, we are family-oriented,” Erskine said. “You are competing for the Chico on your chest. Everyone wants to win for the team.”

Ryan Grady can be reached at [email protected] or @RyanGrady23 on Twitter.