Spartan Sprinters On the Fast Track to Breaking More Records

Champion sprinters Elle Middleton ’24, Gabi Curtis ’26, Kennedy Lartigue ’27 and Tristan Lovell ’25 are poised to break new PR’s and set new St. Stephen’s records at the Southwest Preparatory Conference Championships meet in Dallas. The girls currently hold the school record in the girls’ 4x100-meter sprint relay, the 4x200-meter sprint relay and the 4x400-meter sprint relay.

They need a time of 50.08 seconds to beat the current school record that they also crushed earlier this year in the 4x100-meter sprint relay. Their coach, Emmanuel Matadi, two-time Olympian and qualifier for the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics for Team Liberia, believes this “talented, high-caliber group” has the speed and determination to do it.

“They all come in and work hard and I think they all have the same mindset of wanting to get better and competing,” said Matadi. “Even when they’re out here practicing, they’re competing with each other.”

Matadi is coaching alongside another olympian and St. Stephen’s head track coach, 1992 silver medalist Sandra Patrick.

When asked individually what they believe has led to their success, each athlete said it’s their bond that has strengthened during practices and meets. Middleton said the team not only warms up together, they also hang out in the stands, and cheer each other on in their individual events. Lovell said it’s important that they show each other support on and off the track.

“This group is so amazing to work with, they’re always cheering everyone on,” said Lovell. “Even when there’s someone who is kinda not feeling it, you can always count on your teammates to push you forward.”

The camaraderie means everything to Lartigue, who is a freshman–and the newest and youngest member of the team. Although she says she was intimidated at the start of the season, kindness from her teammates helped that feeling disappear.

“They were talking to me, saying “hi” at school–and they’re all genuinely nice people,” said Lartigue. “It’s easier to be on the relay with them and have a good connection because we have chemistry.”

Capitalizing on that chemistry has led to big wins they say feels great and energizes them to achieve more.

Middleton, the only senior on the team, says she is going into the competition with a different mindset than past races. In her final meet as a Spartan, she is aiming to land personal records in every event, but she's also recalling a personal reminder to enjoy the experience and not be too hard on herself. 

Curtis says no matter what, she’s proud of this record-setting team.

“I’m really excited for our next years when we can set more records, do better, go faster and keep pushing each other,” said Curtis. “I’m just really proud of this team and glad we can make our mark on this school.”

Their names are displayed in Clayton Gym, where the names of all current Track and Field school record holders live.

But make no mistake, the entire relay team is on the same page of the St. Stephen’s history book, and agrees that beating another record in the 4x100 is the big goal.
"When you work hard, you deserve moments like that where you can see your achievements and hard work going into action,” says Matadi.

The 2024 SPC Spring Championships will be held May 2-4 in the Dallas area. Individual tennis championships were held in Austin on March 22-23. Boys and girls lacrosse championships were held April 18-20 in Dallas. To learn more and follow the action click here.
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