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N.J. women’s sprint medley squad nearly breaks all-time national record

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

There are few words to accurately describe just what the Maplewood (N.J.) Columbia High girls sprint medley relay squad achieved at the New Balance Nationals track meet, but the following is a good start: They ran very, very fast.

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Columbia sprinter Olivia Baker won two national titles and nearly set a new record in a single meet — SOMSD.K12.NJ.US

Columbia sprinter Olivia Baker won two national titles and nearly set a new record in a single meet — SOMSD.K1 …

As reported by the Newark Star-Ledger, the Columbia medley relay clocked the second fastest time in recorded U.S. prep track history, crossing the finish line at 3:52.07, just .17 off the all-time national record.

Of the four members of the Columbia sprint medley stars, two had performances that were particularly notable: 400-meter runner Olivia Baker and 800-meter racer Shanika Dessein. Both recorded near-record times at their respective distances in the race, with Dessein clocking a 2:09.34 and Baker finishing with a blazing 53.1-second 400.

As the day went on, Baker got more impressive. The Columbia junior, who hopes to eventually become a neurosurgeon, ran the anchor leg of the 800-meter relay, finishing with a flourish in a final leg of 2:13.03 to close out a 9:01.12 performance.

That 800-meter title gave Baker two on the day, but the first was certainly more impressive, particularly when viewed in a national context. The record for the girls sprint medley relay had stood at 3:51.90 since Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt recorded it in 2007.

That time still stands now, but for the first time it was legitimately put under threat on Saturday thanks to a stunning performance by Baker and her compatriots.

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