Running to a Record

Herrin High School’s Track Athletes Set a New School Record
Braden Davis (10), Mason King (10), Coach James Elliott, Nolen Frost (9),
Waylon Hall (11) pose at the end of the race, after beating their coachs record, 34 years later.
Braden Davis (10), Mason King (10), Coach James Elliott, Nolen Frost (9), Waylon Hall (11) pose at the end of the race, after beating their coach’s record, 34 years later.
Photography, Mads LaBotte

On April 30th at the Chuck Oyler Invitational in Benton, four Herrin High School students made track history. Waylon Hall (11), Braden Davis (10), Mason King (10), and Nolen Frost (9) broke the school record for the 4×800 with a time of 8:10.37.  The record had been held since 1990, when head coach James Elliott, along with Steve Watson, Justin Walker, and Josh Beamer broke the the previous record with a time of 8:19.20.

Going into this season, all four athletes held confidence in breaking records. This confidence only grew as they started the season breaking relay records. At the Bob Karnes Relay in DuQuoin on April 16, the relay team of 4×800 runners Mason King (10), Braden Davis (10), Nolen Frost (9), and Noah Coleman (11) broke the previous DQ Relay Record by 2.4 seconds with a time of 8:24.45. In addition, at the Sprint Medley Relay (SMR), runners Mason King (10), Waylon Hall (11), Logan Clough (12), and Kyrese Lukens (11) broke the previous meet record for the 4×200 (100, 100, 200, 400) by 10.69 seconds.

Asked about the incredible school record-breaking race, sophomore Mason King states, “We knew we were going to break the record this season but it was just a matter of time.” King also states, “I think the time will keep dropping because we have the rest of this season and the following before we lose Waylon.”

Sophomore Braden Davis reminisced on watching the finish of the race: “We could feel that even at the start of the race, something good was going to happen. When Waylon, our anchor leg crossed the line, Coach Elliott ran up and gave us a big hug because he knew we broke the record he helped set back in ’90.”

Herrin’s 2024 4×800 relay team beat the second-place team at the Chuck Oyler Invitational by 33.47 seconds.

Braden Davis (10) starts off the race with a strong first 800. (Photography, Mads LaBotte

For those unfamiliar with running the 4×800 is a relay in which each of the four runners battle two laps around a regulation-size track at an almost sprint-like pace. It is not an easy feat and takes hard work and dedication from each runner to establish endurance and strength as well as the dependability of fellow teammates to accomplish.

Waylon Hall (11) anchors the relay and runs past opponents to his second lap as they begin their first lap, demonstrating just how far ahead Herrin’s relay team was from its opponents. (Photography, Mads LaBotte)

Waylon Hall (11) the anchor of the relay stated, “It felt groundbreaking since it was the longest-standing relay record. It was also special because our coach was part of the team that held it previously. I’m just very happy that it happened to a younger group like ourselves, and it proves that we will get faster in the future.”

Coach Elliott also explains the issues that arise from a smaller selection of athletes to work with when creating a winning team. “For a small school like ours, it is hard to get four 800 runners in sync and close to the 2-minute mark.”

In addition to being the boy’s track head coach, Coach Elliott is also the assistant coach for Herrin’s cross-country team. This allows him to have a lot of the same runners year-round. This builds dependability among the athletes, and in turn, delivers a strong line of runners.

Coach Elliott states, “We knew the record would be broken this year. As far as the 4×8 team, we have had several different versions. All including the four runners that broke the record, along with Maddox Burks and Noah Coleman.”

Nolen Frost (9) seamlessly takes the baton from Mason King (10) to lead the third leg of the race as opponents watch. (Photography, Mads LaBotte)

Freshman Nolen Frost, the youngest member of the relay team, said he was “very happy to help break the longest-standing relay record in the school as a freshman.” Frost added that this accomplishment is even more significant “especially since the team is young and I’m excited to see what we can do next year.”

All four boys agree that one of their greatest motivators has been Coach Elliott, who has been there every step of the way to encourage, support, and guide them. The boy’s track team is on the last leg of their season. You can watch them in action next Wednesday, May 8th, at DuQuoin for their conference meet and the following Wednesday, May 15th, at Mascoutah for Sectionals.

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