Arlington freshman Kailynn Gubbels started in lane No. 8.
The Eagle went up and over hurdles, crossed the finish line and found hugs and high-fives waiting for her. The fourth-place finisher's mother, Leslie, capped off the celebration, planting a big kiss on her cheek.
“No matter what lane you're in, it doesn't matter,” Gubbels said Saturday at the NSAA State Track and Field Championships at Omaha Burke Stadium. “You can always just push as hard as you can.”
Milee Young and the freshman-qualifier pushed the Arlington girls to an eighth-place finish in Class B with 23 team points. Both girls medaled twice, while Sarah Theiler came up just shy in her two state events — the high jump and the 400-meter dash.
Gubbels was fourth in the 100 hurdles Saturday despite qualifying eighth the day before. She finished the race in just 15.76 seconds before earning third in the high jump. The Eagle cleared 5-feet, 5 inches, earning applause from her cheering section, which had moved from the northwest corner of Burke Stadium to the northeast corner behind the chainlink fence.
While Gubbels smiled ear-to-ear as Theiler and she left the high jump pit, Young was disappointed in herself despite a fifth-place finish in the shot put. Her top throw — 41 feet, 2 inches — brought tears to her eyes.
“I'm probably going to be crying still for shot put,” Young said when asked if she'd be able to look back at her state experience positively. “I should have done better.”
Just four Class B throwers were better than the Arlington standout in the shot put, but three fewer were better than her in the discus. Young cleared 141-5 to finish second in the Friday event behind South Sioux City's Nyabuay Diew, who swept the throwing events.
“But I threw a 150 on my warmup throw,” Young said.
Though the Eagle saw the glass half empty Saturday, her efforts helped push the Eagles into the top 10 of the girls' standings. Furthermore, the junior scored exactly half of her school's state meet points.
Four Arlington boys, meanwhile, made the most of their lone state opportunity in the 3,200-meter relay. It was the only event the Eagles had qualified for.
“It means a lot,” Sam Kubat said. “We just wanted to compete our hearts out for our hometown.”
The Eagles finished the 2-mile race race in 8:32.2 to finish eighth.
“It's been a long process,” Daniel Young said. “All of our hard work was worth it. We were training for this exact moment and now we are here.”
“I knew we were going to pull up. We were going to catch up to everyone because, you know, I trust my team,” Casey Kirk added. “I know they're going to do what they've got to do when they've got to do it.”
The relay squad had to wait through one of Friday's frequent delays caused by timing before running their event under the hot sun. That said, Arlington still came through in its lone boys event.
“We were pretty focused,” Cole Marquardt said. “Stayed calm.”