In December, you could find Megan Campbell doing speed workouts at the track in Wellington in the snow.
Five months later, you could find Campbell on top of the podium at Cessna Stadium being named the Class 4A state champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes Saturday at the state track and field meet.
Those bone-chilling workouts in the winter were what Campbell credits for her transformation into one of the fastest sprinters in Kansas. She is signed to run at Wichita State.
“You put on the Under Armour and you put on a hoodie and you put on some sweats and you go out and do your workouts,” Campbell said matter-of-factly. “It’s just what you do to be the best.”
Being the best is what Campbell has been obsessed with since leaving Cessna last season after finishing fourth in the 100 and 200. That was when she realized her potential.
“Anything you told her that was going to make her faster, she was willing to do it,” Wellington coach Tyler Ryan said. “Whatever it took to be the best, she was willing to put in the work to be the best.
“I guarantee you there weren’t too many kids out there in the cold weather doing what she was doing.”
Campbell started lifting weights more often, focusing on strengthening her legs. She started eating right, making sure to keep her body finely-tuned. But more than anything, Campbell was a slave to her mechanics.
Every motion during a race was planned; every stride was calculated to propel her faster.
Her sprints coach, Tim Lira, who still holds the Class 4A record in the 200, knew Campbell had arrived in a special class after the first meet of the season.
“She just took herself to a whole other level,” Lira said. “She’s earned this. She’s worked really hard for four years and it’s awesome to see her go out on top like that.”
The culmination of her year of dedication was Saturday, as Campbell responded by running a 12.00 in the preliminary round and then repeated the exact time in the final, which held for the fastest time in any class.
Campbell claimed the lead coming out of the drive phase, but Coffeyville’s Devin Cosper, who finished ahead of Campbell at state last season, briefly surged ahead with 30 meters to go.
“I knew she would be there,” Campbell said. “I’d seen her marks all season. I knew she was fast. But I just told myself before the race to put the blinders on and just run my race. And today, that worked.”
Campbell sprinted past Cosper and left her nearly a full tenth behind.
Another push came from Atchison freshman Sierra Smith in the 200, as Campbell and Smith were neck-and-neck coming out of the curve and into the headwind down the stretch.
Campbell’s finish was again superior, as she won with a time of 26.34.
“It was like a wall of wind was hitting you,” Campbell said. “(Smith) is a great runner, but I was like, ‘I am not going to let a freshman beat me in my senior year.’ ”
Campbell’s value to Wellington stretches beyond her individual events.
Ryan says Campbell is one of the most well-liked athletes on the team and has a team-first mentality. That’s why the Crusaders have been able to have so much success with their 400 and 1600 relay teams this season.
On Saturday, Campbell excelled in both of her legs. She ran the second leg in the 400 relay and handed off in the lead, as Wellington would go on to finish in fifth in 50.32 — the best finish in the last three years of qualifying. And Campbell ran a sub-minute split on the 1600 relay, bringing Wellington in for a third-place finish in 4:08.53.
“She works so hard in practice and she’s very dedicated,” said Holly Wright, a teammate who runs both relays with Campbell. “When we see her in practice working as hard as she can and giving it her all, that makes all of us want to try harder too.”
Campbell spent a full year visualizing what her work could accomplish at the state meet in her senior season.
All the winter workouts, all the weightlifting, all the attention to detail paid off on Saturday. It was the feeling Campbell had been anticipating for the last year and it was everything she expected it to be.
“I think when you work and you train and you dream about something for so long, when you finally get there it’s just so special,” Campbell said. “I don’t know, I can’t really describe it. It’s just amazing.”