Once in a while an athlete will come along and be fortunate enough to leave their mark on her sports’ athletic program when they reach their senior year. For Tecumseh’s Jaci Rife, she didn’t want to waste any time.
The Arrows track standout has broken four school records in four different events this season as she has qualified for this week’s regionals at UD Arena.
Oh yeah....one more thing. Rife is only a freshman.
The first-year varsity athlete has set a new standard for Arrows track in the short distance races, as she has set new records in the 100 (12.77), 200 (26.73) and 400 (59:54) individual races, and was part of the 4x4 team that has also set a new school record (4:13.97).
For Rife, she had a dominant middle school career, and looks back on her first year in high school as a successful period of time for her.
“This year started off really fun and as the season progressed, I realized that I have been breaking some records at Tecumseh,” Rife said. “The competition and great teammates made it a whole lot more fun for me.”
While she spent her middle school career running in a lot of relays, Rife now has broken free from that with a lot more competition in the open races. In fact, the Arrows newcomer has taken a liking to the 400, which is the event she has broken the school record the most, and now is just rebreaking her own record.
“It’s pretty nerve-wracking, but once I take off, I get really comfortable,” Rife said, who added she just focuses on her race.
Holbrook knew coming into the season how special Rife could be as the season progressed, now he is seeing her deliver in some big events.
“I knew she was going to be special at the beginning of the year when we were running some preliminary times,” Holbrook said. “We have added long jump with her this year and she has done amazing with that. We started timing her 400 times earlier in the year.”
“I think she has made everybody better,” he added. “Her teammates are now seeing this freshman out there working hard and people are working harder around her.”
“I had no idea I was going to get this far, I mean since I was in high school and there are so many people faster than me,” Rife said. “In middle school I would win all the time, but here there are just so many more people.”
One added responsibility that Rife has taken on is a leadership role, one that Holbrook and the coaching staff has placed onto her which is also rare for a freshman.
“I definitely didn’t expect much of that since there are so many seniors out there who are really amazing,” she said. “As a team, we are amazing working together, we have gotten first and second place so many times this year.”
“I don’t think she goes out there to break any record,” Holbrook said. “I think for her it’s all team, team team. She is always there for her teammates.”
On Friday evening, Rife advanced to this weeks’ regional meet at UD Arena, as she set two new school records that were listed above. To advance out of the districts, she set new records in both the 100 and 400.
Rife also participates in cross country, and will prepare for that once her track season ends.