Wood helps anchor girls’ team to seventh-place finish

Stephen Kalb-Koenigsfeld, Pioneer Editor

Jolie Wood eyes the next turn out of her blocks in the 400-meter dash March 29 at the Snowflake Meet in Columbus. Wood won the event with a time of 1:03.93 (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer).

COLUMBUS — When Jolie Wood rounded turn four, heading for home, there wasn’t anyone in her peripherals.

Despite only winning the open 400-meter dash by 11-hundredths of a second, the sophomore won her heat of the event and took home the top prize at the Snowflake Meet in Columbus on March 29. 

Wood, who returns as one of the Herders’ top competitors in 2018, ran a 1-minute, 3.93-second lap for first-place, her first gold of the season. 

Oddly enough for her, Wood said she was hardly expecting to take the top spot.

“I was actually kind of scared I’d be slower this year, but apparently not,” Wood said. “I came out really fast, and usually if I come out that fast, I die. But I wasn’t dying.” 

Wood was also the anchor leg of the girls’ 4x400 relay, which took third in a time of 4:44.42. Wood had just about 50 meter between her and the first-place runner in her heat, and wasted no time overtaking the lead.

“I was expecting to just go [all out], because that’s what the fourth runner does,” Wood said. “But once I saw she wasn’t going that fast, I knew I could take her.”

While Wood secured first for her relay’s heat, but the second grouping just had that much faster times. Red Lodge took first with a 4:34.91, while Huntley Project was second (4:42.18) and Roundup third (4:42.78). 

Uniquely enough for the 4x400 squad, all four runners return this year from the same relay that went to state. That includes junior Ashlyn Wood, who ran third leg in the relay and made up nearly 100-plus meters in her brief time on the track. 

When Ashlyn took the handoff, she knew she had work to do. 

“I was so nervous standing there, but I knew we ran about the same time,” Ashlyn said. “I knew I should be able to make ground. And my mom sat on the final corner and said, ‘She’s getting tired.’ And usually I’m too brain-dead to pay attention to that kind of stuff. But I looked ahead and looked at her and could tell she was getting tired. So, I just got it all out there and was still able to catch up.”

Returning leadership and experience is by far one of the strongest facets of the Herders’ ability to succeed this season. While one can’t measure that incredibly accurately on paper, members of the team are hoping it comes through by May. 

“It’s nice because we all know what we can do and how to push each other to get there,” Jolie said. 

“Luckily, we’re a tight group. We all get along really well,” Ashlyn added. “This year, and going to state last year and being really good friend, really helps bring it together.”