In the span of 11 minutes and 11.1 seconds, the FoxHigh School record for the girls 3,200-meter run disappeared on a sunny, mild day at the Jefferson Invitational on March 26.
Running for coach Ed White at Fox, Margaret Hertenstein set the 3,200 mark in 11:26.
Almost four decades later, Maggie Armstrong is married, has four children, a grandchild and lives in O’Fallon, Mo. She was an assistant coach for track and field and cross country at Fort Zumwalt West and retired from competitive running five years ago.
Senior Amie Martin broke the record and set a new personal-best time in the event for the second time in just a few days. Martin won the 3,200 by more than a quarter mile, lapping Jefferson freshman Chelsea Badger, who was second in 12:55.35.
“I wanted to get the school record,” Martin said. “I went out and knew what I was supposed to do because I knew I had to get 1:25 a lap or faster. I know how to run those. I’ve been training to get those numbers through repeats and trying to memorize how it feels to run that fast.
“I lapped everyone. I knew going into the race I was going to be far ahead and racing the clock. My friends were shouting at me.”
Armstrong, who became a member of the Fox Hall of Fame in 2007, said she was unaware her record had been broken until she received a text message from a friend on Friday.
“That’s awesome. I’d like to meet her and shake her hand,” Armstrong said. “For 38 years for somebody to break that, more power to them.”
Martin’s smile was wider than the eight-lane track at Jefferson High. In addition to her triumph in the 3,200, she also took first in the 1,600, with another personal record time of 5:18.79. On Friday at the Park Hills Rebels Relays, Martin ran 5:15.56. Armstrong still holds the school mark in the 1,600 in 5:14, at least for now. Martin said she hadn’t competed in that event since her sophomore season.
Martin has always been a solid distance runner, but in three trips to Jefferson City she hasn’t won a state medal in one appearance in track and field (10th in the 3,200 in Class 5 in 2017) and two trips in cross country (36th in 2017 and 31st in 2018, both in Class 4). As an example of how her time in the 3,200 has improved, Martin was second in Class 5 District 1 in the event last year in 11:51.96. The next week she didn’t advance out of sectionals.
Fox distance coach Norm Mitchell said he could see Martin had a lust for success last cross country season and it’s carried over to the spring.
“She’s a terrific kid with a great attitude,” Mitchell said. “This isn’t unexpected. She’s in a positive frame of mind right now. She’s a happy teenager.
“Last year she didn’t meet her expectations. I have to deflect credit to Becky Alden (Fox’s cross country coach). (Martin) never stopped training this winter.”
The next target Martin is shooting for is to run a sub-11:00 in the 3,200. She’ll need to do that to keep up with the best in the state. At last year’s Class 5 state meet, Blue Springs South had the top two runners in the 3,200, and only one of them, Victoria Findley, cracked 11 minutes at 10:47.03. Findley won the event in 2017 with a strikingly similar time of 10:47.53. Three runners ran under 11:00 at state in 2016.
“I could see her breaking 11 minutes,” Mitchell said. “That could happen in the next couple of weeks. She’s a really good runner, regardless of the weather. It could be 90 degrees or 30, she just runs her race.
“Cutting three, four, five seconds is a big chunk of time. Her goal is to be on the upper end of the podium at the state tournament. Once you get there and compete against the elite runners, for her that’s what it’s all about.”
To ascend the state medal stand this May, Martin said she needs to keep training hard, eat properly and drink plenty of water.
She’ll be attending Concordia University in Seward, Neb. Martin said the school’s head coach contacted her last summer, and after a visit there, she was hooked.
“It’s amazing. I can’t see going to any other school,” Martin said.
Like many athletes, Martin is motivated by failure. Getting back to Adkins Stadium this spring is paramount to ending her prep career.
“It’s pushing me hard,” she said. “In my head all that’s happening is a big flashing sign that says redemption season. I’m over the moon.”
Armstrong left the 1,600 and 3,200 behind when she attended Southeast Missour iState University and ran mostly 5K and 10K races. She remembers training at Fox on the cinder track and what it was like to step on a rubber track for the first time in Cape Girardeau.
“It was like I died and went to heaven,” she said.
It’s said records are made to be broken. Maybe Martin will be a mother and grandmother when the next Fox runner betters her time.