STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
DRIPPING SPRINGS — Before she took to the track to run the 800 meters at the Dripping Springs Tiger Relays on Feb. 24, Marble Falls High School freshman Bailey Goggans discussed strategy with head track-and-field coach Anthony Torns.
“Just go run,” he recalled telling her. “Just go out and run. We’ll figure out what we have to do.”
And, boy, did she run.
Goggans finished first in the varsity 800-meter event with a time of 2 minutes 11.62 seconds, the second-fastest time in the nation this year. She also broke the school record by nine seconds and qualified for the New Balance Nationals outdoor meet June 15-17 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“I didn’t expect her to run that fast in the 800,” Torns said.
Less than 90 minutes later, Goggans ran the 400-meter race and finished in 56.14 seconds, the fastest time this year in the state on any level and the fourth-fastest nationally.
“I wanted to go out knowing I tried my hardest,” Goggans said. “That’s what matters.”
Torns thought the freshman would run the 400 meters in 56.00; he attributed the additional fourteen-hundredths of a second to the short break between the races.
Goggans said she is still learning several important aspects of running. The biggest is not using so much energy in the first of two laps in the 800-meter race.
“I didn’t know how to pace myself,” she said.
Torns knew the freshman was capable of breaking the school record in that event since she did it last year as an eighth-grader at Marble Falls Middle School. Because that race wasn’t at a varsity track meet, officials couldn’t give her the record. This year, Goggans officially inked her name in the Marble Falls High School record books.
She credits Torns for her success, noting she did what he asked her to do, which was to simply compete.
As a seventh-grader, Goggans was a 200- and 400-meter runner. After she posted a 61-second 400 meters in seventh grade, she made it her goal to run it in 58 seconds as an eighth-grader.
Torns saw the young Goggans as a 400- and 800-meter runner, something he and Marble Falls Middle School coach Brenda Gonzales discussed toward the end of Goggans’ seventh-grade season.
When Goggans broke the high school’s 800-meter record as an eighth-grader, it confirmed to Torns that she was an 800-meter runner.
But what did he see that made him believe that?
“She has a natural endurance about herself,” Torns said. “I figured, ‘She’s running fastest quarters (400 meters), she’s running pretty good 200s.’ We weren’t going to train her as a 200 to 400 kid. I saw a natural endurance, a quality that she has. We can train and get it better.
“And because of her body type,” he added. “Let’s see if she’s able to hold her speed. As a seventh-grader, she ran a 61-second 400. As an eighth-grader, she ran well, but she didn’t (balance) out the laps correctly.”
The goals are to drop another three to four seconds on her times and close the gap between the first and second laps in the 800 meters, Torns said.
In addition to running the 400 and 800 meters, Goggans also high jumps and runs on the 4×400-meter relay team.
“She’s a special kid,” Torns said. “She’s a very dedicated kid, from diet to understanding and studying race plans. She’s on top of her game. I’ve never had a kid who’s that dialed in.”
Goggans has plenty of goals. Among them is to run at the Class 5A state track meet in May as a freshman and qualify for the meet annually, just like another former Mustang, Olympian Leonel Manzano.
Manzano, who earned nine state championships before he graduated in 2004, is considered the greatest runner in the history of the Marble Falls High School program.
He won the silver medal in the men’s 1,500 meters at the 2012 London Olympics.
Goggans already has a list of his accomplishments and hopes to meet him one day.