Wings on her heels: Lucy Singleton stuns field to win 800 regional title

Published 3:43 pm Thursday, May 18, 2017

RICHMOND — Lucy Singleton was not expected to win the 800-meter dash in the Class 3A, Region 7 Championships Saturday at Madison Central.
With six high school runners seeded ahead of her in the race based on their previous times, the Lincoln County eighth-grader wasn’t really even considered to be a contender for any of the top medals.
But she showed them. The petite blonde outraced the field of 14 to the finish line in the regional contest, shaving an impressive 13 seconds off her previous best time to win the 800-meter title in 2:23.79 and earn a spot in the state track and field championships at the University of Kentucky.
And no one was more shocked by the finish than Singleton herself.
“I can’t believe it!” Singleton said after getting a congratulatory hug from her dad at the end of the track. “I really didn’t think I was going to get first. But I took off fast and I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve just got to keep this pace and stay on the person in front and I can do this.’ So that last stretch I was like, ‘Ohmigosh, I’m dying. But I was like I’ve got to push. It’s 100 more meters. I can do this! I can do this!”
But West Jessamine’s Madi Hawley, a senior, and Gabby Long, a junior, didn’t make it easy on Singleton, staying close on her heels down the stretch, with Hawley battling for first. Singleton said she could feel Hawley at her back. 
“I heard her and I’m like, ‘I can do this. This is one race, 100 meters left, so push yourself.’ And I did. I ended up getting a 2:23 which was 13 seconds off my time,” she said. “And I’m like really happy.”
The Lady Patriot runner said that the excitement started to really set in when she saw an open track ahead of her down the home stretch. 
“When I saw that I think it helped me go faster. I thought, ‘I’m going to get first. I’m going to be first in the region,’” she said.
Singleton, who just missed advancing to state in the 400-meter dash last year, had to surge in the final 200 meters Saturday to set herself up for victory. 
“I led about midway for the 200 then she (Hawley) caught up with me,” she said. “I let her get a little bit ahead of me so I could pace myself and so I just stuck with her. She started slowing down and then another person took the lead so I caught up with her and stuck with her, and then that last 200 I just went.” 
“I was very focused that race,” Singleton said. “I kept my focus ahead and tried not to let them get too far ahead of me because if I did that I wouldn’t be able to catch. So I focused on staying next to their outside shoulder. In that last little bit I focused on keeping my form pretty good and breathing right because I really wanted to make sure I had a spot next Saturday at Kentucky.”
Starting fast like Singleton did Satuday can sometimes be a curse for runners, with exhaustion getting the best of athletes at the end of a race. But there was no petering out for Singleton in the race.
“Thursday me and Coach (Rodney) Bunch were working on 200s,” she said. “He wants me to try to get a 32-second 200 each time I run it. So we worked on that because he wanted me to get a feel of what that felt like. I felt pretty good through the race. That last 100 meters I felt like I was dying, though.”
Throughout the current season, and last year as well, Singleton has become accustomed to competing against high school athletes, but she said she tries not to think about that too much.
“It’s intimidating because they have a lot longer legs than mine and they’re more experienced than me so that goes through my head a lot,” she said. “But I’m like, ‘Well, you have plenty of experience, too, and you can run just as well as they can if you try. As long as you put your best effort forward, you’re good.’”
Singleton will be surrounded by high school runners Saturday at UK, especially in her own 800-meter dash as she is the only middle school runner in the field of 24. She is seeded ninth in the pre-performance roster.
“I’m very, very nervous, but I feel like I can do it,” she said. “ I’ve been to Louisville for middle school state but I’ve never been to Kentucky. Hopefully I’ll do as good next week as I did today.”
Lincoln garnered medals in two events in Saturday’s regionals. Lady Pat sophomores Bianca Long and Alexa Wesley and seventh-grader Maddy Slone joined Singleton on track for the 400-meter relay where they claimed the sixth-place spot. The quartet of sprinters covered the distance in 56.24 seconds.
Lincoln had 13 athletes competing in Saturday’s regionals. In addition to Singleton, Long, Wesley and Slone, the Lady Patriots had senior Sarah Mayberry and sophomore Abigail Carter competing in field events and sophomores Chrissy Mullins and Katherine Rowe and seventh-grader Ava Morgan competing in track. The Patriots had only three representatives at region, with senior Matt Slone competing in the discus field event and sophomore Colton Bowling and freshman Bret Edgington competing in shot put. 
All of the Lincoln results from regionals follow:
GIRLS
800 relay: 7) Lincoln Co. 2:00.29 (Bianca Long, Maddy Slone, Alexa Wesley, Lucy Singleton.
1600: 10) Ava Morgan 6:24.32; 14) Katherine Rowe 6:54.07.
400 relay: 6) Lincoln Co. 56.24 (Long, Wesley, Singleton, Slone).
800: 1) Lucy Singleton 2:23.79; 14) Morgan 3:26.80.
200: 16) Rowe 35.95; 17) Chrissy Mullins 41.60.
Shot put: 8) Abigail Carter 27-00.50; 15) Sarah Mayberry 20-07.50.
Discus: 11) Mayberry 67-07; 14) Carter 65-08.
High jump: 9) Alexa Wesley J4-04.00.
BOYS
Shot put: 16) Bret Edgington 27-11.50; 18) Colton Bowling 27-00.50.
Discus: 14) Matt Slone 84-09.