Varsity Track and Field

Topeka West's Macahla Wesley sets 200 record

The track announcer introduced Macahla Wesley as "one of the best sprinters in Kansas history" on Friday at Cessna Stadium.

Wesley felt more like a nervous 14-year-old girl who couldn't find her mother.

"It worried me a little bit," Wesley said. "I knew she was watching somewhere, but I just feel so much better when I see her before I run. It calms me down."

Nervous worked out for Wesley pretty well too, as the Topeka West freshman blazed through her Class 5A 200-meter preliminary race in 24.32 seconds — the fastest fully-automatic timing race by a girl in Kansas history.

Wesley will run her 200 final around 5:50 p.m. today.

"I made this historic list," Wesley said. "I'm in history now. Through all these years these people were fast, people from the 1970s and the 1980s and whenever. You're like breaking their records that have been there all these years. That feels really good."

Wesley was successful on the summer track circuit before she ever began her high school career, so she has dealt with similar introductions to her races.

"I get that a lot," Wesley said. "I feel like at every meet the speaker says the same thing, OK, this is the number one runner in the state.' I try not to listen to it, but you can do nothing but hear it."

Her coach says she handles it well.

"She doesn't buy into the whole hoopla," Topeka West coach Chris Perry said. "God has given her a lot of talent, but he can take it away, too. She realizes that and she's just a blessing. Everybody views her as just an average freshman. She's an average freshman to us."

Wesley has been anything but average, winning national AAU championships.

"I have just built up my speed and perfected my strides and got my form down," Wesley said. "Just little things can make you faster by tenths of a second."

Straight out of the blocks, there are few that can keep up with Wesley's explosion. But Wesley said her favorite part of the 200 is the curve, a chance to pull ahead of the competition.

Scary thing is, Perry says there's still more left.

"I would say she has some untapped potential," Perry said. "I think she's about 90 percent of where she could be. We really believe she could get stronger."

Wesley never did find her mom before Friday's race. But as soon as she crossed the finish line she was able to pinpoint her in a crowd.

"We just have that strong mother-daughter bond," said Wesley's mother, Denise.