800 Project Come Up Short Of Relay Goal, Hit Sub-9 Anyway

* The 800 Project girls joined On The Line a few weeks back to talk their record attempt

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The goal was certainly ambitious. 

A group of talented mid-distance girls from Indiana and Massachusetts, aptly titled the 800 Project and led by Pike distance coach Courtney Bishop, was going after the World U20 4x800 best of 8:37.71 -- World Athletics doesn't recognize official 4x800 official records -- on Thursday at the Summer Distance Open at Indiana Wesleyan University. 

While it wouldn't come easy, there was a sliver of hope: Crown Point's (IN) Maddie Russin and Wheeler's (IN) Amaya Turner had run the 800m in 2:07.86 and 2:08.52, respectively, in July. Tewksbury Memorial's (MA) Makayla Paige had an official PR of 2:06.27 and Roncalli's (IN) Emily Sonderman had gone 2:14.50 previously. 

The four girls would have all needed to net personal record efforts -- or at least performances at nearly identical marks to their career -- in order for the World U20 mark, which was last accomplished by Jamaica in 1991 at The Penn Relays, for it to have gone down. 

Reality set in early on Thursday, though, and the girls were off their mark when they finished the race in 8:54.83. Paige finished in 2:13, Sonderman in 2:16, Turner in 2:13 and Russin in 2:12, awarding the group the fastest 4x800 run by high school girls in 2020.

But it wasn't all for naught. 

Sometimes a dream can help elevate those who are pushing for it. And for Paige, who ran a US No. 600m time of 1:29.70 over the indoor season and traveled from Massachusetts to compete in the race, it gave her incentive to keep pushing. 

She hadn't raced the entire 2020 outdoor season.

For Russin and Sonderman, it gave the pair one more race before heading off to Indiana University, where they will both run next year. 

And for Turner, it continued her ascent in the 800m -- an event she finally concentrated on over the 2020 quarantine season. She and Paige will both be back as high school seniors for 2021.

In the end, while the race didn't go as planned, the team did put together a very impressive performance, with three girls under 2:17. 

According to the MileSplit database, the effort ranks No. 21 all-time in the 4x800 record books -- because it was done with an all-star team, it won't count toward high school marks.

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