Dynamic duo: Seratte, Stewart leading LHS girls track on another memorable postseason run
It is a tradition that started at the beginning of the 2019 season.
Just before every 800-meter run, Lawrence High seniors Evann Seratte and Hannah Stewart give each other a fist bump for good luck. Although they are teammates, they know that only one of them can win that particular race. That still doesn’t stop them from wanting what is best for each other, however.
“It just gets our minds right,” Stewart said. “It is nerve racking going in there, because there are high expectations for both of us. We know that we are both in it together and we are going to compete hard together.”
It is the only event that Seratte and Stewart technically compete against each other. Both LHS standouts will be competing in four events this week at the state track meet at Wichita State’s Cessna Stadium, including a pair of relay races.
Stewart is slated to compete in the 1,600-meter run and 800-meter run along with the 4×400-meter relay and 4×800-meter relay. Stewart is the fifth seed among state qualifiers in the 1,600-meter run, though this will be the first time she’s competed in that event at state. Her regional time is third among qualifiers in the 800-meter run.
Seratte, meanwhile, will be competing in the 400-meter run and 800-meter run along with the same two relay races as Stewart. Seratte claimed second in the 400 and first with a school-record time in the 800 during last year’s state meet. She is seeded 10th and fourth, respectively, based off regional times this spring.
“I would definitely love to defend my title in (the 800), but honestly as long as me or (Stewart) gets it — as long as we go 1-2 — I wouldn’t care,” Seratte said. “It is definitely a good partnership.”
That has been the mindset this duo has embraced since their very first day as teammates.
Although Stewart and Seratte went to different middle schools, they were familiar with each other due their athletic accomplishments at their respective programs.
“I knew Stew, because she was the little basketball girl that was a really good point guard,” Seratte said. “She knew me, because I was that tall girl that could run fast.”
The tandem formed a bond during their freshman season with the girls basketball program, and immediately became training partners on the first day of track practice. The two have been essentially inseparable since.
“Track is such a collection of individual events that you try to come together as a team,” LHS head coach Jack Hood said. “This team has really gelled and bonded, and I think their friendship is a symbol of that.”
Between the two of them, Seratte and Stewart have netted a total of 16 trips to the podium for placing in events at the state track meet. Both of them contributed to a first-place finish in the 4×400-meter relay as freshmen. The 4×400-meter relay took fifth in 2017 and second last year. They have also helped the 4×800-meter relay score twice in the last three seasons.
It has led to a remarkable run for the LHS girls track and field program as well. The Lions have placed in the top-15 in each of the last three seasons, including a state title last spring. LHS also won the Sunflower League meet and regional meet this year.
As a result, Stewart and Seratte would love nothing more than to go out with another title in their last event as teammates. Stewart has chosen to compete in rowing at Kansas State University, while Seratte will run track at the University of Kansas.
“We are ready to step up this weekend and do our jobs,” Seratte said. “It is anybody’s game as this point. It just whoever shows up that day and decides to compete.”
LHS athletes to watch
On the girls side, Lawrence has plenty of firepower to compete for some hardware this weekend in Wichita.
The 4×100-meter relay of Ashley Wildeman, Amaya Harris, Bella Kirkwood and Asjah Harris enter the state tournament as the No. 1 seed in that event. Not only that, though, the quartet has the fastest time all year in Class 6A with a mark of 48.12. And guess what? They have actually run faster.
In fact, the same relay unit ran a school-record time of 47.90 to win the event at the state track meet last spring. Preliminaries for the event are expected to take place at 2:55 p.m. Friday, while the finals will be around 3 p.m. Saturday.
In addition, a trio of LHS athletes are seeded second in their respective event based off regional marks. Amaya Harris (javelin), Josie Hickerson (pole vault) and Asjah Harris (200-meter run) are all one spot lower than the favorite entering the state meet.
Amaya Harris finished sixth in javelin as a freshman last year, while Hickerson placed second in pole vault. Asjah Harris, a junior, took second in the 200-meter run at state last season. She is also the fifth seed in the 100-meter run.
Graham Hough, meanwhile, is the fifth seed in the Class 6A boys 200-meter run.