Last week, with a lineup change, the Marietta College 4x400-meter relay team of Corryn Muench, Jessi Larrison, Brittany Sims and Sheena Spencer was timed at 3 minutes, 54.98 seconds at the Billy Hayes Invitational at Indiana University.
The clocking was under the NCAA Division III provisional time of 3:56.60, and placed the Pioneer foursome among the top 10 4x400m relays in the country.
Christi Tims is the alternate leg on the relay team.
"It's very exciting," said Spencer, who graduated from Marietta College this past Sunday with a degree in psychology. "It's one of those opportunities that you dream of. With it being my senior year, it's a nice capper to my whole track career to go to nationals."
Today and Friday, Spencer and her relay teammates are hoping to better their time, to hopefully 3:52 or even 3:50, at the North Central Last Chance Meet in Naperville, Ill. Next week (May 21-May 23), the 2009 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships are scheduled to get underway at Don Drumm Stadium.
Spencer, a 2003 Parkersburg High graduate and former Big Reds track and field standout, is the anchor on the provisionally qualifying MC relay team.
"You know, there's not that much pressure being an anchor," she said. "You're not really going for a place but a time. And I think what motivates me is when you've seen three girls already run a strong leg, you want to keep that going."
No stranger to big track meets, Spencer as a prep athlete ran for one of the premiere programs in the state of West Virginia at PHS. There, she excelled in the open 400 and on the relay teams under the guidance of the legendary Susan Gardner.
"I have good memories of Parkersburg," said Spencer, smiling. "But my family's moved to Ohio and lives in Marietta, now."
"It's kind of ironic," she continued, "coming from Parkersburg and being able to represent Marietta. It's quite an honor."
Spencer actually is a transfer. Before MC, she attended the University of Charleston (W.Va.). She said she then "took a complete year and semester off."
Everything's fallen into place," Spencer said, "and it seems like everything's happened for a reason."
Adding third leg and freshman Sims to the 4x400m relay lineup has been a big plus.
"There's a lot of talented girls on this team," Spencer said. "And looking at it from a coach's perspective, it was nothing personal. You put another girl in and you see it makes a difference. It worked. Now, we're just looking forward to Illinois and seeing how much more faster we can get."
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441, or at firstname.lastname@example.org