Four boys from Auburn broke a Maine track and field record that has held for 26 years.
Tallen Berry-Hart, 6, Peyton Langlois, 7, Brodyn Rodrigue, 8, and Eben Thibodeau, 7, ran the 8 and under 4 x 100 meter relay in 1:10.78 during the USA Track and Field Maine State Championships on Aug. 12.
The old record of 1:10.90 was set in 1991.
“We just ran our fastest,” Rodrigue said.
The boys have been running together for the past two summer track seasons.
“They told us from the beginning that they wanted to stay together as a relay team,” said Angie Jalbert, one of two coaches who run the Auburn Recreation Summer Track and Field program.
Berry Hart, Langlois, Rodrigue and Thibodeau placed second during the 2016 championship race and set their sights on the top of the podium at the start of the 2017 summer program.
The team entered this year’s state meet with the fastest qualifying time, but nearly three seconds off the record.
“We were not expecting them to break the record,” Jalbert said.
Rodrigue, a student at Fairview Elementary School, said his team’s goal for the day was “don’t stop running.”
They had practiced their handoff of the baton the last practice before the state meet.
Rodrigue said the key to the baton handoff is to “trust the person giving it to you.”
“Don’t try to find it (baton). Let them put it in your hands,” Thibodeau said.
“The kids all think the relays are the funnest things,” Jalbert said.
The Auburn team sprinted into the lead shortly after the second handoff of the championship race at Massabesic High School in Waterboro. They had a commanding lead after the third handoff and were all alone during the final 50 yards.
Parents were cheering and their coaches were going nuts. “I was doing jumping jacks,” said Rodrigue’s mother, Tammy, who also coaches alongside Jalbert.
Despite their parents’ enthusiasm, the boys hear nothing. “We tune them out,” said Thibodeau, a student at Sherwood Heights Elementary.
“What I thought was awesome is that they all continued to run their fastest. None of them let up. They all ran hard,” said Thibodeau’s mother, Shannon.
Parents give credit to the track program and the coaches for their runners’ success.
“We have been in the program for five years and I think it has gotten progressively better,” said Peyton’s mother, Jolene Langlois. “The high school helpers are key.”
The program holds practice once a week during the summer months. Former and current high school athletes help out with each discipline.
The boys and their two coaches will attend a USA Track and Field ceremony in Waterville later this year, where they will receive a medal for their accomplishments.