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Wagner surprises herself by winning 300 hurdles at TRC


Sports Editor, RTC

Audrey Wagner

WABASH — Rochester junior Audrey Wagner won the 300 hurdles title at the Three Rivers Conference track meet at Wabash Friday.

That might be as surprising to Wagner as anybody else.

She had never run the race competitively prior to this year.

But in the race of her life in the event, she edged Maconaquah’s Lucy Loshnowsky by 0.12 seconds for the title.

“It feels amazing,” Wagner said. “I never thought I would actually get first place in the 300 hurdles. I just started running them. This is amazing. I’m very proud of myself.”

Wagner began gaining confidence that she could win once she started passing runners in the second half of the race.

“By the curve, I started passing everyone that I didn’t think I would pass, and I felt really confident, and I just went, and I think I had it in the bag, which I did,” Wagner said.

Wagner said Harrison Dunwoody, a hurdler on the Rochester boys team, suggested to her that she try the 300 hurdles after last season ended.

“And so we went with each other,” Wagner continued. “We raced. I ran a sectional time, and they were just like, ‘OK, next year, you’re going to start running the 200 hurdles,’ and I did.”

Wagner had run the 200 and the 400 at the Bremen sectional last year. She finished sixth in both races. None of the five runners ahead of her in either race was a senior.

“I can’t remember exactly where the idea originated,” Rochester coach Ryan Helt said. “But right at the end of the season, you look at her stature and her ability in the 400, and we had this idea that maybe she would be good in the 300 hurdles, but we didn’t want to mess with it at the end of the season, so we just told her the day after regional, just come out and try them, and she ran a high-50. She did run around one hurdle, but it was an indication that she could do it.

“So we knew that was the game plan coming in. But she’s had shin pain through the years, so we haven’t been able to rep her very much. I think this was only her third or fourth hurdle race. Really we knew she had the underlying make-up for it from her 400 days and the athleticism. She’s still got a lot of flaws in going over the hurdles themselves, but they’re not really going to reward you points based on how it looked going over, just how it crossed the line. … There were times where she might have doubted the plan on the 300 because she’s a perfectly adequate 400 runner, but we just thought as far as the talent level goes in our sectional and our conference, the 400 is a really hard path to get through right now. And there was an opening in the 300 hurdles, and I’m just happy for her that it worked out. She’s a great kid. I couldn’t be happier.”

Wagner said she pictures herself going over the hurdles before the race begins.

“Whenever I’m about to hurdle, I just visualize how far away I should be,” Wagner said. “I don’t really count (steps).”

She said that conditioning is not as important to her as technique is. She said she already had the endurance because of her experience running 400-meter races.

“I think it’s a lot less endurance than I’m used to because you’re coming back as a 400 runner, you already have that endurance for the 300,” Wagner explained. “The only thing you really need to work on is going over the hurdle and having technique going over the hurdle instead of so much endurance.”

Wagner is thankful for assistant coach Alysha Wachtmann for helping with the technique part.

“She’s been a big help,” Wagner said. “At the beginning of the season, I had no idea how to hurdle. She gave me the confidence to start going over hurdles, and I picked it up from there.”

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