Samantha Budd is the Queen of Kick.
In the 1,600 at sectionals Friday night, Haddonfield’s Shelby Cain and Meghan Malloy tried everything to stop the West Deptford senior.
They boxed Budd in.
They cut her off.
They forced her outside.
But coming around the final turn of lap four, Cain and Malloy had no answer for Budd’s burst.
The senior turned the mile into a dead sprint, coming from a few meters behind Cain over the final 100 to win the Eagles’ first South Jersey championship of the weekend, clocking a 5:13.18 to beat Cain by nearly two seconds.
It was shades of , though her South Jersey title was less about closing a gap and more about closing it out.
“I’ve always had a kick,” Budd said. “I just let it go every race, and I don’t know where it comes from.”
A rigorous training regimen might have something to do with it, though—Budd’s been cranking out workouts that would make some college athletes wince, girls’ head coach Mark Drummond said, and her performance alongside the boys in the final dual meet of the season, when Budd ran a 5:09, helped give her confidence heading in.
“(The 5:09) wasn’t a fluke,” Drummond said.
With somewhat better weather conditions—the high humidity and heat Friday evening weren’t ideal, and Budd said she could feel it in the late going—Drummond said the school record of 5:04 could be within the senior’s reach.
For now, it’s right back to grind Saturday, with Budd gunning for her second distance title of the weekend in the 800. She’s aiming for a 2:14 or faster, which would put her into qualifying for nationals.
“It’s going to be a tough race, but I’m glad it’s going to be in the morning,” Budd said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”
A number of West Deptford girls qualified for states in several events Friday.
Megan Knoblock was just off the pace set by Budd in the 1,600, qualifying for states with a with a 5:27.63, which put her fifth.
Megan Kirschling, a multi-event contender, opened her weekend with a fourth place in the triple jump, leaping 35-1.5. Her jump was actually farther than last year, when she took home the title in the event, but was about a foot and a half short of winning.
Claudia Theriault will also head to states, after clearing 9-6 in the pole vault, good for fourth place.
Here’s who to look for Saturday:
Megan Kirschling: It’s just a matter of how high the senior can go, when she goes after the high jump title. The senior should also be a factor in the 100 hurdles.
Samantha Budd: She’s the top-ranked 800 runner coming in. Any questions?
Nicole Pinto: The speedy freshman should qualify for states in the 200, and might have a shot at cracking the school record while she’s at it.