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Century relay team makes splash at nationals

Panthers' 4x100 girls relay team finishes fourth at Nike Outdoors Nationals in Eugene, Ore.

Section 1AAA track championships
Century's Favor Omoijuanfo (right) hands the baton off to Maddy Habberstad during the 4X100 meter relay at the Section 1AAA championships on June 4, 2022, at Lakeville South High School. <br/>
Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin
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Favor Omoijuanfo, Maddy Habberstad, Sarrah Lindner and Megan Lund made good on a wish hatched one year ago.

The Century track-and-field sprinters did it. They boarded a plane bound for Oregon and on Sunday competed in the Nike Outdoors Nationals, doing it at the most famed track-and-field stadium in the country, Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Hayward Field has been host to more USA Olympic Track and Field Trials and NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships than any other venue.

"The stadium was amazing; it is gorgeous," said incoming-senior Habberstad. "And it was so cool to see the kind of competition that we did."

Nationals Track Photo.jpg
The Century 4x100 relay team, from left, of Megan Lund, Maddy Habberstad, Sarrah Lindner and Favor Omoijuanfo competed in the Nike Outdoors Nationals on Sunday, June 19, 2022, in Eugene, Ore. The Century foursome finished fourth in the race.
Contributed photo

The stadium was so stunning, and the stage so large, it had Lund pulsating and queasy.

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"I was nervous," said the incoming junior. "When I lined up for the race, my heart was pounding and I felt kind of like I was going to throw up. But once the (starting) gun went off, then I was in a zone. Once I got the baton (from Lindner), it was over in the blink of an eye."

It ended with Omoijuanfo/Habberstad/Lindner/Lund timed in 48.01, good enough to finish an excellent fourth overall in the Nike Outdoors Nationals' most competitive division.

That foursome had only run a better time once, that on June 11 at the Class AAA track-and-field meet. That clocking was 47.7, good enough for the state title and marked only the second time Century had claimed a state relay championship in the history of the school.

Omoijuanfo/Habberstad/Lindner/Lund had clinched a spot in the Nike Outdoors Nationals a couple of weeks prior to the state meet. While that clocking was good enough to get them into nationals, as was also true last year (when they ultimately stayed home from nationals), it wasn't enough to get them into the top bracket of the national meet.

But then came the state meet a couple of weeks later at St. Michael-Albertville High School, with anchor-leg runner Lund producing one of the best chase-down efforts ever witnessed. That not only got Century the state title, but lofted it into the top division of the Nike Outdoors Nationals, if they elected to go.

And this time, they did.

Century track-and-field coach Kris Allen watched the national event online, as it was streamed in. She saw the looks on her runners' faces before and after the competition. Any wondering if they were getting their money's worth was quickly answered.

All she had to do was look at leadoff runner and incoming senior Omoijuanfo's face to conclude that there was elation here.

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"Favor smiled and waved at the camera; she ate it up," said Allen, whose 4x100 Century relay team a year ago talked only in passing about competing at nationals. "I think the girls had an absolute blast. They had a great time together. They wanted to go out there and put their best foot forward. And they did that. Their (relay) exchanges looked great."

Those few days spent in Oregon represented some of the best of times for all of them. The competition, the scenery and the vibe at Hayward Field were all off the charts.

So was the camaraderie that went with all of it.

"Those three or four days that we got to spend together, it made us all the closer," Habberstad said. "We did a lot together."

Possibly even bigger and better things from Century's 4x100 relay team are yet to come. Lindner is the only one from this year's bunch who's graduated.

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Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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