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Prep newsmaker: A final run for a record for Duluth East's Smith

Before Lydie Smith's senior track and field season at Duluth East, coach Nathan Kinsey informed her of the school-record times in the 100 and 200 meters.

Prep newsmaker: Lydie Smith
Duluth East's Lydie Smith has one more chance at breaking a school record in track and field at the state meet. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

Before Lydie Smith's senior track and field season at Duluth East, coach Nathan Kinsey informed her of the school-record times in the 100 and 200 meters.

At the time, Julie Hay's 1982 records of 12.54 in the 100 and 25.74 in the 200 seemed so distant to Smith.

"In the beginning of the year they showed me the school records for the 100 and 200, and I remember looking at the 200 school record and thinking, 'Oh, that is so fast that I'll never beat that because I've never gone under 26 (seconds),'" Smith recalled. "But I did so much better than I ever expected this year."

Smith broke Hay's mark in the 200 by eighth-hundredths, running a 25.66 in finishing second at last Saturday's Section 7AA meet in Princeton, and came within one-hundredth of a second of her time in winning the 100.

She will have a chance to better that mark this weekend in the Minnesota Class AA track and field state meet at Hamline University in St. Paul. Preliminaries for both events are Friday morning.

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Smith also runs the anchor leg on the section-winning 800 relay, which has lowered its times by 7.37 seconds since the start of the season and smashed a 21-year-old school record earlier this year and reset it by running 1:44.18 on Saturday.

"She's our fastest runner so she's the one who can step it up when we need to," second-year coach Kinsey said.

Smith qualified for the 2010 state meet in the 100 but didn't run up to her potential, she said. As a junior, she couldn't get past Duluth Denfeld's Paige Stratioti and Hibbing's Sammi Arger in the sections. But with Stratioti having graduated and Arger out with a broken arm, the door opened for Smith and she ran right through it.

Still, Smith's times in the 100 don't bode well for qualifying for Saturday's finals. She's seeded second-to-last in that event, so she has Hay's final school standard in mind.

"My goal is to beat that record and not be second-to-last; it will extremely difficult to reach the final," she said.

Her chances are better in the 200, where she stands less than two-tenths of a second from the top nine times, and more likely in the relay. East's quartet of Lauren Elwell, Lucy Robb, Jackie Erickson and Smith ranks seventh despite not being pressured all season.

"If we have schools in front of us, pushing us, we can knock off at least another second," Smith said.

Kinsey agrees. "They always had a huge lead in this event so they haven't experienced competition until sections, and even at sections they still had a big lead," he said. "I'm excited to see what they are capable of when they compete at state -- I'd love to see them break the record a third time."

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No matter what happens, this marks the end of Smith's competitive running career. She will attend the University of Minnesota and study animal science, hoping eventually to become a veterinarian.

Kinsey says she will be missed.

"Lydie is a very hard-working athlete and a valuable asset to the East track team," he said. "She's been an excellent team captain and role model and has helped bring the team together."

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