Coming around the bend in the 300 meter hurdles, Tyarra English-Paulson raced into the lead, sprinting ahead of her fellow competitors at the Minnesota State Track and Field Championships. And as she crossed the finish line, she remembered how long she had dreamed of that moment, and a wave of emotion came over her.
“I will cry if I talk about it,” she said. “I have wanted this for so long, I’ve been praying forever like, ‘I want this, I want this.’ I’ve worked for it. Since I was 8 years old, I’ve told my mom, ‘I’m going to beat your record, I’m going to beat the school record, I’m going to be a champion.’”
The senior hurdler posted a winning time of 44.38 seconds, finishing nearly a half second before any other competitors. English-Paulson came in with the bet qualifying time from the preliminary round and got faster in the finals.
“I felt more confident because I knew that I could run a [2:44] and I pushed myself,” she said. “I feel like it gave me more adrenaline before – like I know I can do it, I have just got to do it again.”
Last year, English-Paulson made the finals but finished just outside of first place. This year she pushed herself even harder and the work paid off.
“I remember last year I wanted to hear it so badly, ‘Tyarra Paulson in first place,’” she said. “It felt so good to to be like, ‘I get to step on to that podium this year, it’s mine.’ I’m so happy, I’ve worked for it. It just made everything worth it.”
Racing for the final time as a Royal, English-Paulson made sure she made the most of her moment.
“I kept thinking that this is my last time ever I’m going to run the 300 hurdles – I can’t run it in college,” she said. “I’ve got to get the time I want. It’s my senior year, the last time I’ll ever run this race. I’ve got to go get it. It definitely makes me want it even more, it makes me realize how real it is like, ‘I’ve got to go.’”
Her teammate Ailsa Gilbert, who also competed at the state meet, was proud of her accomplishment.
“It was great,” Gilbert said. “She has been working so hard for it and it’s her senior year. I think she deserved every moment of it. It’s awesome.”
Gilbert also made the finals in her events, nearly winning the triple jump.
“I’m so proud of her,” English-Paulson said. “She got second place in the thing that she cares about the most, and for her 100 hurdles, she wasn’t as proud but I know that once she starts working on those blocks, shes going to kill it. She has a lot of talent, and especially next year, I can not wait to watch her win triple [jump] next year.”
Gilbert finished second in the triple jump by clearing a distance of 37 feet, 4 inches, while also placing eighth in the 100 hurdles (15.47).
“I think I got some good jumps in, I ran hurdles well – I’m pretty proud of myself,” she said. “I was third last year, just to one up myself is a pretty great feeling.”
Gilbert had to compete in a competitive field in both events, with all qualifiers in the 100 hurdles within half of a second of each other, and the jumpers within a couple of inches.
“It’s very competitive,” she said. “We’re all in this little range. We’re literally tenths of seconds and inches [away from each other.] I think it’s just really fun to go out there and and give it our all, because everyone is doing that, so it’s awesome.”
Gilbert also had to battle an injury after getting hurt in the preliminary round.
“I felt a lot of pain after prelims, and I thought, ‘OK, well, Summer is after this.’ So I just gave it my all and went for it.”
Only a sophomore, Gilbert hopes to return and finish even higher in the years to come.
“I’m super excited to see what is ahead of me, but I’m also just very proud of all of the competitors that I ran and jumped against today.”
In addition to the state meet, Gilbert and English-Paulson had record-breaking seasons, setting three school records in 2017. Gilbert re-set her own records in the 100 hurdles (15.14) and triple jump (37-5 ½), while English-Paulson broke Marissa Janning’s record in the 300 hurdles with a time of 44.38 (previous record was 45.39).
Monika Czinano also represented the Royals at the state meet, competing in the discus. In day one of the competition, Czinano threw a distance of 108-11.