On Saturday at her own home track, Notre Dame junior Lauren Eftink put on a show by bringing home SEMO Conference gold in not just one but in each of the four events she ran in the annual conference meet.
The races Eftink became an individual conference champion in were the 800-meter run, the 1600 and the 3200, while also being a member of the Bulldogs first-place 4×400-meter relay team.
Along with her four conference gold medals, Lauren took home the title of the SEMO Conference All Division Meet Most Valuable Track Performer.
“It means a lot. It really does — coming into this I didn’t expect that,” Eftink said. “I was just hoping to run some good races, but I’m really grateful for everyone who’s helped me get to this point, too. I know I’m running for a lot of people.”
In the 800 and 1600-meter races, Eftink bested one of Jackson’s top distance runners in senior Mallorie Metzger, who signed with Maryville to continue her career collegiately prior to the season.
Eftink actually started out both races behind Metzger, but Lauren finished ahead of her in both events with times of two minutes, 22.75 seconds [new personal record] in the 800 and 5:19.73 in the 1600 compared to Mallorie’s 2:23.72 and 5:24.07.
“The 800 was really fun — that was crazy and a big [personal record], and I think it was a four-second PR,” Eftink said. “Running against Mallorie was really fun, too, because she’s a really good 800 girl. I knew winning that was going to be hard.
“I just kind of waited with her for a little while, but in that last 100, I was just like, ‘Give it all you’ve got,’ so I was just going for it! The mile was fun, too, because we were going back and forth there for a little while. I kind of took it with the 600 to go, and I was like, ‘I’ve gotta go now!’”
As for the 3200, Eftink topped Jackson sophomore Annika Barks by more than three seconds with a time of 11:56.57 to Barks’ 11:59.99 as they were the only two runners to clock in under the 12-minute mark. Lauren’s Notre Dame teammate senior Molly Turner took third place in the race by crossing the finish line at 12:18.58.
Eftink was even lapping other runners during the race as five competitors finished outside of the 15-minute mark with two finishing after 18 minutes.
“The two-mile is really fun — I do like it a lot,” Lauren said. “In that race, you’ve got to stay focused a lot longer. That’s the mental part of that you just have to get used to. Cross definitely helps me a lot with that because you run three miles in cross. It goes by a lot quicker when you get used to it.”
Eftink was accompanied by senior Jenna Givens and sophomores Lily Carr and Courtney Tatum as members of the 4×400 conference championship team. These Bulldogs finished with a combined time of 4:14.84, which was nearly five seconds ahead of second-place Cape Central.
“We got a huge PR in that one, too, like a four-second one,” Eftink said. “We were all screaming and jumping, and I think we can get better, too, which is really exciting to think about that.
Back in the fall for the cross country season, Eftink became a two-time all-state medalist and won her first-ever conference championship. She was an all-state medalist in the 1600-meter run in track last spring.
“I’m really excited for this postseason in track, but I don’t really know what’s all going to happen,” Lauren said. “I love the unknown, though, and I’m excited to see what I can do and what all will happen when I get some good competition.”