By Mike Beas
It might not be possible to make covering 400 meters of all-weather surface in less than a minute appear routine.
Paige Kirtz does better than most.
A 12th-place finisher in the event at the 2022 Girls State Track and Field Finals, Kirtz, a senior at Brownsburg High School who also long jumps and anchors the Bulldogs’ 4×400 relay, has her sights set on a place on the awards podium this spring.
In the meantime, Kirtz will continue to attempt to chase down the only two faster 400 times in BHS history – Allison Weimer’s 56.82 seconds established in 2009, and Abby Lynch’s best of 57.08 during the 2018 season.
Kirtz, meanwhile, produced a lap of 57.44 seconds at the Lafayette Jeff Regional as a junior.
“Paige is one of those runners who is a leader by example,” said Bulldogs coach Julie Waggoner. “In the meets, she’s one of those gamers who is always going to compete. I’m just really excited to see her progress this season.”
Kirtz, a 3.6 grade point average student in the classroom, also started at small forward for Brownsburg’s girls basketball squad, which finished with a 16-10 record after capturing the 17th sectional title in program history.
A return to Indiana University in June would mark the third time Kirtz qualified for state.
She picked up a sixth-place medal as a junior after anchoring the 4×400 relay team that posted a time of 3:58.24. Two of the relay’s other runners are back in junior Aysa Thruston and sophomore Aysa Thomas.
As a sophomore, Kirtz was 10th in the 4×400 and 13th in the 400.
Kirtz did a Q&A with ICON:
Q: Given their differences, is it difficult being good at both the 400 and long jump?
A: It’s definitely a different range of speed. With the long jump, you’re always attacking the board at full-speed.
In the 400, there are usually four different ranges of speed I use. I start off strong, then, once you hit the 200, they call it floating. The third is when you’re hitting the back curve, and you’re picking it back up, and the final 100 you’re going all-out.
Q: Do playing basketball and running track work together in any way when it comes to your preparation?
A: Basketball actually helps me stay in shape, giving me that extra endurance. In basketball, I accelerate a lot, so that helps, too.
Q: Track athletes often refer to the 400-meter dash as the most difficult running event. Why do you feel you’re best suited for it?
A: My brothers, Tyler and Bryce, both ran the 400 when they were in high school, and it inspired me. (Laughing) Four-hundred runners are special.
Q: What are your plans after graduating from Brownsburg High School?
A: I have committed to Ball State to run track. I just really love the coaches, the campus and it just fit me well.