By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – The shuttle hurdle relay is enough to make any track coach a nervous wreck.
With 40 hurdles in the 400 meter race the possibility for something to go awry is higher than any other event.
The relay has always been a stressful one for Brent Sands but never has the long-time Solon coach been more nervous watching a shuttle hurdle relay than he was at the state meet last week.
Sands’ daughters, senior Alexis and freshman Peyton made up half of the Spartan’s shuttle hurdle relay team that set a school record and earned a state medal with an eighth-place finish at Drake Stadium in Des Moines on Saturday.
“There is already some stress that comes with being a coach at the state meet and then having two daughters here you want them to perform well too,” Sands said. “I was foolish enough to put them in a race that has 40 obstacles in the middle of it to add to that pressure.”
The Sands sisters joined sophomore Rachael Nelson and junior Molly Duckett to set the school record in the event at 1:07.05 in the Class 3A prelims on Thursday.
In the finals, the foursome clocked a 1:07.81 to finish eighth in a strong Class 3A field.
“It was definitely special to end my career with a medal,” Alexis Sands said. “We went out and had a solid run and that’s all we could hope for.”
For the Sands family the state meet offered an opportunity to close a special season with a lasting memory.
Brent Sands has spent 16 years leading the Solon girls track and field program and the last three coaching Alexis who earned a state medal in the 100 hurdles last year as a junior.
This season offered a new opportunity with both of his daughters on the same team for the first and only time.
“It was definitely exciting,” Peyton Sands said. “It was lucky that we could run together on my first year and her last year. It’s something that I’ll always remember.”
The two sisters grew up doing gymnastics together but the age gap between the two prevented them from doing most activities together.
In their lone season together on the Solon track team the two sisters made the most of every opportunity, include a trip to state.
“It was really cool,” Alexis Sands said. “I spent so much time with her and just how far away we are in age it’s nice to have a chance to run together this one year.”
Growing up the sisters used to tag along to track practice after school. One of their favorite activities was to try to go over the hurdles.
With a background in gymnastics the idea of flying over hurdles seemed natural and both stuck with it.
“I think with gymnastics it was something that came easy to both of us,” Peyton Sands said. “It was always fun to go over them when we were younger with all the big girls and then we kept going along with it as we got older.”
Together the sisters helped Solon qualify for the state meet in the shuttle hurdle relay with the ninth fastest qualifying time.
The goal was to make it to the state finals which the Spartans did with the fastest time in program history.
“I was so excited for them to make the finals, we were close but you never know what is going to happen when you get down here,” Brent Sands said. “To break the school record that is a real cherry on top of that whole thing.”