Bullis Girls Set National and World Junior records in 4x200

LYNCHBURG, VA -- A day after narrowly missing the national and world junior record in the girls' 4x400 relay, the Bullis girls left no doubt on the track as they leveled two Jamaican teams and Virginia's Western Branch relay to win the girls' 4x200 invitational at the Virginia Showcase.

The Bulldogs time of 1:35.39 broke the national high school and world junior record set by the Poly High (CA) foursome of Shana Solomon, Jasmine Lee, Dominique Dorsey, and Shalonda Solomon at the Armory Track in New York City in 2003.

Two sophomores ran the first legs for Bullis. Shaniya Hall, who anchored the 4x400 on Friday, led off, and had one purpose.

"I knew that I had to get out strong," said Hall, who put the Bulldogs out in front. "I had to get a lead for the rest of my team."

Hall handed off to Leah Phillips, who was unaware of the collision on the handoff between the two Hyder runners from Jamaica, who were one lane outside of her, and whose exchange landed the baton recipient spinning into a 360 as she hit the guardrail outside of Lane 6. 

"I had horse blinders on," said Phillips. "All I was concerned about was staying in my lane and getting a good handoff. If I had seen (the collision), I might have gotten confused."

Phillips maintained the Bullis lead, as she made the second exchange to senior Ashley Seymour at just under 48 seconds, on pace for the records.

Asked if she was aware of their record-setting pace, Seymour, who has committed to San Diego State, was adamant. "I thought we were definitely on pace. I had to make sure no one caught us." Seymour's split of 24 seconds put the baton squarely into Masai Russell's hand as the Bullis stick passed the 600-meter line at 1:12.

"Oh yeah, for sure, I knew we were on pace," said Russell. "When I saw 1:20 something at the 100-meter mark, I knew it was time to bring it home. That's what we wanted to do - break the record."

Although she had won the 55-meter hurdles earlier in the day, Russell, a Texas A&M signee, said that fatigue was not a factor. 

"I wasn't that tired. I'm used to doing my hurdle workout at practice before doing the regular workout, so I'm used to it."

For the four Bullis runners, the race was not the culmination of years of hard work, but rather the next step.

"Our goal is to continue to develop," said Coach Joe Lee, who has led the Bullis program since 2013. "We will continue to work on technical issues, and things that we have to clean up." Asked if he was concerned about his runners peaking too early in the season, he added, "I don't believe in slowing kids down. There is no ceiling. The question is - how fast can we run? Trust your training and trust the process." 

Setting a good training environment is key for the Bullis squad.

"The best thing about our team is that everyone believes in themselves, and they believe in each other," said Lee. "There's no jockeying for position, and it makes for a healthy training environment." 

The Bulldogs will continue their season with performances at the Millrose Games and University of Kentucky HS Invitational before heading to the New Balance Indoor National meet.

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