Christal Mosley will go down as one of the best sprinters in Kansas history, but her coach thinks the Southeast senior never had the chance to fully explore her best.
That's impressive, considering Mosley is leaving Southeast as a five-time state champion with the Class 6A state meet records in the 200-meter and 400-meter dash. She's run the fastest 200 in Kansas history in 23.80 seconds and the fourth-fastest 400 in 54.26 seconds.
But Mosley was never pushed to her extreme. That requires competition, something Mosley never found.
“I wish we could have seen how low she could have gone with somebody there with her,” Southeast coach Patric Jackson said. “I think a lot of the other all-time greats had someone there to push them through it. But Christal has basically done all of this on her own and that’s a hard thing to do.”
This weekend's Kansas state track and field meet at Cessna Stadium was a perfect example.
Mosley knew she could go all-out for Friday's 400 preliminary to chase the 38-year-old meet record of 54.40 with fresh legs and still have enough to win the title on Saturday. The plan was executed perfectly, as Mosley captured the record with a PR run of 54.26 on Friday, then coasted to a 56.07 on Saturday and still won the title in more than two seconds.
The 200 race didn't offer much more competition. Mosley ran a rather ordinary (by her standards) time of 24.63 and won by nearly five-tenths of a second.
“I tried my best to go 100 percent, but there’s only so much I can do,” Mosley said. “There’s a limit to what I can push myself to. Having someone out there would definitely make me run harder.”
Since no one from Kansas has been able to challenge Mosley, Jackson feared that complacency would set in with his star runner.
So the coach inserted Mosley as the anchor on Southeast's 4x400 relay team, a plan that would allow Mosley to fully unleash and unlock her true capabilities.
“I feel like I can finally push myself way more because I’m going after somebody instead of running by myself,” Mosley said.
She saved perhaps the greatest performance of her career for last, as Mosley passed five teams on her anchor leg to lift Southeast to a season-best time of 4:00.38. Her split clocked in at 54.12, which would be her personal-best if it came in the open 400.
Mosley was more than four seconds behind when she took the final handoff. By the 200-meter mark, Mosley had closed the gap and was on the heels of the lead pack. By the time she rounded the curve, she had drawn even with the leader.
With each long stride down the final straightaway, Mosley pulled further and further away from the field and closer to cementing her legacy with a sixth-to-first comeback.
“What better way knowing how competitive she is then to stick her on that anchor leg and watch her go,” Jackson said. “I just told the other three girls to get us in a position where we can compete, then let Christal bring it home.”
It wasn't a surprise to Isaiah Mosley, Christal's father. He has seen on the summer circuit how tougher competition has brought out the best in her.
The problem during the high school season is finding that tougher competition, even at the 6A level.
“I actually like it when she has to go fight for it,” Isaiah Mosley said. “It’s good for her to see how it feels running behind and next to people, instead of always running in front where she can’t see anybody.”
It's good preparation for the next level, where Mosley will continue her running career at Barton Community College.
She's sure to find more competition there. But for one last time, Mosley showed what she could do on her own as a high school athlete.
“I’m really just overwhelmed with joy,” Mosley said. “I did what I came here to do and I succeeded. It makes me excited about what I can do next.”