By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Tyler Berge has a little extra motivation for Friday’s girls 3,200-meter relay race at the Class 6A state track meet at Yukon.
Berge will be thinking of injured teammate Holly Stuart, who is out with a broken foot. Berge, Stuart and the now-graduated Cara Merz and Brittany Urban were eighth a year ago with a time of 9:59.92.
“I miss her so much,’’ Berge said of Stuart. “That definitely motivates me. We always say before we run that we’re running for her.’’
Stuart is Berge’s biggest fan.
“There is no one in the world that I would rather see in this position,’’ Stuart said. “She is such a leader. I can’t wait to see her at state. It’s a little bittersweet because I always imagined being there with her, but at the same time life moves on.’’
Stuart’s injury propelled Berge — a sophomore — as the relay’s leader. She is joined by freshman Misha Claytor and Andi Pierce and sophomore Abby Resendiz, who just reported from soccer.
“I just want to be a good leader for the young girls,’’ Berge said. “I know I needed those older girls to help me last year. I know what they are going through.’’
Berge is just happy to be at state. The relay, which was fourth at regionals with a 10:57, received one of the four at-large berths Monday.
“I’m really happy and surprised,’’ she said. “I didn’t know we even had a chance. It’s just great to be there with this young of a team.’’
She tries to be a leader vocally and by example. Her goal for state is for everyone to run their personal best time. She herself hopes to get in the low 2:30s.
A year ago at state, the 3,200 relay ran under 10 minutes for the first time.
“As long as we run our best, that’s the big thing,’’ Berge said. “If you have your fastest time at the last meet of the year, it’s been a successful season.’’
Berge and her teammates have had to battle winter-like temperatures throughout the spring. Warm weather is “critical’’ to setting personal records.
“The weather just has been awful,’’ she said. “You just have to block it out and rough it out and run through it.’’
Berge has shown she can run in bad conditions. It was raining a year ago when the quartet had their best time of the year.
“We did really well,’’ Berge said. “I want to make more memories like that.’’
Berge, like most runners, likes to load up on carbohydrates before a race and likes to eat sweet potatoes as well.
“That surprised me,’’ she said. “I read about it in a magazine and decided to try it. I ran great at practice afterward and I decided to keep it going.’’
While the experience helps, she admits to being a little nervous for state.
“I think it helps to be a little nervous,’’ Berge said. “I do feel a little more pressure. I’m the first leg. Everyone is counting on me.’’
Berge helped Enid’s cross country team last fall qualify for state for the first time since 2009. She said she likes both sports equally.
“Running is pretty much my main thing,’’ said Berge, who runs 20 to 25 miles a week.
Berge has two constant routines before a race — stretch and pray. Running is spiritual for her.
“It’s definitely a stress reliever,’’ Berge said. “I love it. It definitely makes me feel closer to God. It gives you a lot of time to think to yourself.’’
She avoids burnout by “resting a lot.’’
“I’m going to try to rest up some this summer,’’ Berge said. “But I’m going to keep running some. That makes cross country not as tough to get into.’’
The Pacers will have two other entries — high jumper Macy Adams, who will be looking to clear five feet in her second trip to state, and the 400-meter relay of Claytor, Irene Delatorre, Natasha Washington and Lateara Wooley, who were third in the regional.