Photo by Duane Badger
MINGUS UNION's 4x400 relay team poses just after shattering the old school mark by more than 2 seconds. Cory Romine (from left), Chris Rice, Joey Woods and Larry Badger turned in a time of 3:26.6.
The long-time Marauder coach gave a "double thumbs-up" and jumped into the celebration when his son Larry and teammates Joey Woods, Chris Rice and Cory Romine shattered a long-standing school mark in the 4x400 relay at the Winslow Invitational.
The Mingus foursome crossed the line in 3:26.6, an average of about 51.5 seconds per lap. The old record, set by Duane Badger, Kim Tabeling, Albert Pender and Robert Nelton three decades ago, had been 3:28.95.
"I started coaching Mingus track during the 1989 season," the elder Badger said. "With all of the great performances that I have witnessed over the years, and there have been many, this is the most personally gratifying moment that I have ever experienced.
"It is wonderful to see the hard work of these four boys be rewarded with the accomplishment of breaking a 30-year-old record. … Now their record stands as a goal for younger boys to seek after in the coming years."
Here's how the day unfolded, according to Duane:
"They have been very close for several weeks but have not been able to all get their best effort at the same time. When I looked at the weather report for Friday, Winslow’s report was simply: WINDY.
"When we arrived, the wind was about 20 mph. As the day progressed, so did the velocity of the wind. I think it finally topped out at about 30-35 mph.
"I meet with my pastor every morning for a cup of coffee and a short time of prayer. Included in my prayer on Friday was a request for good weather, which would allow the relay team to do their best.
"It was amazing; the wind blew hard all day until right before the relay team stepped out onto the track. Then the wind died and it was perfectly calm.
"Winslow sets up the heats by potluck, and as luck would have it, we were in the slow heat. I told the boys they would just have to run on their own. Larry was the leadoff runner and when he came to the hand-off he was in first place by about 10-12 meters. Joey Woods runs the second leg, and he turned in his best time of the year maintaining the lead.
"When I saw the elapsed time after Joey handed off, I knew they had a shot at the record. Chris Rice ran third and improved his best 400 by nearly a second. Chris was on a great pace and I shouted to Cory Romine, our anchor runner, that the time was great, but he was going to have to fly.
"Chris handed off to Cory who ran the best time of the day, and when he crossed the line, they had beaten the old record by better than two seconds. I knew it was a record without seeing the official time.
"Most of the Mingus track team was gathered to watch the relay, and they knew it was fast. One of the boys yelled to me asking if it was a good time, I signaled to them with double thumbs-up.
"I grabbed my camera, and went out on the field with the intention of capturing the moment. Larry met me and asked what the time was. I told him 3:26.6. He grabbed the other three boys and the celebration was on. I got them together for a team photo, jumping into one of the photos myself.
"We waited for the girls to run their relay and then the boys couldn’t stand it anymore, they ran a victory lap singing the fight song all the way. Their time moves the team into second place in state.
"The team ahead of them has run a 3:25, but I think on a good day, with hot competition, these boys can go faster. So do they."
The relay runners weren't the only Mingus tracksters to shine at Winslow. Ariel Latimer defended her Winslow Invitational title in the 800 meters, defeating a field that included several of the Grand Canyon Region's finest with a time of 2:22.9.
Tyler Meyer set a new freshman record in the discus with a throw of 100 feet, 4.5 inches. Jason Stutheit also turned in one of his best throws, reaching 126-7.
Rice, extending his great day, outjumped teammates Ray Rivera and Dane Mickelsen in the triple jump. Rice hit 40-4. Rivera and Mickelsen were state qualifiers a year ago. "Their competition (at regionals) should be exciting to watch," coach Badger said.
Larry Badger earned bronze in the individual 400 meters, clocking at time of 52.06. He is ranked highly in the region and is looking to qualify for state. Cory Romine took fifth in the 400, right behind in 52.98.