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No one faster in Kansas: Pickens shines in 400 at KU Relays

Sports editor

Lauren Pickens is used to winning.

However, a second-place performance this year might have been her best.

The sophomore track sensation has finished first in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes in each track and field meet this season.

As a freshman, she earned golds in all three events at the state tournament.

In Lawrence April 18, it was a second place in the 400 that has everyone talking.

Pickens ran a personal best, 57.17 seconds in the prelims of the KU Relays, and 58.19 in the finals to take second place.

The relays included high school runners from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. There are no classifications, which means every athlete competes in the same event, no matter the size of the school. Each athlete had to meet qualifying times during the regular season just to compete.

The 58.1-second time in the 400 put her behind only Missouri’s Kendra White. Pickens did however claim the fastest time in Kansas, with Bishop Miege’s Allison Walters one half of a second behind Pickens in third place.

“It’s an awesome experience,” she said. “All of my family and friends came out and supported me.”

Pickens also qualified for the 100m dash, taking 11th place in the prelims. She did not run the 200, although she called that her favorite event.

“It was OK with me because I knew I was coming back with 400,” Pickens. “It’s quite a thing just to say you were 11th.”

The event annually showcases the region’s best athletes, and Pickens was glad to be a part of it. She said she rarely gets nervous.

“A track is a track,” she said. “It’s just at a different place.”

Now that the relays are over, it is back to the high school season for Pickens.

“I got my 400 time the way I want it,” she said, “but I want to get my 100 down.”

She ran the 100 in 12.6 seconds at Lawrence and has a personal best of 12.1 in her career.

Now, seeing some of the best athletes in the Midwest, Pickens is ready for a challenge.

“Hopefully I can get it into the 11s,” she said of her 100 time.

Last modified April 29, 2009

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