Prep girls' track: Baxter passes baton to Love in senior's final meet

The Herriman frosh holds off the Timpview senior in two races.
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Provo • The voice over the loudspeaker called their names as the two sprinters barreled down the final stretch of the 200-meter race Saturday.

"Love and Baxter! Love and Baxter!"

Herriman freshman Kaysha Love and Timpview senior Lauren Baxter were side by side, in lanes four and five, and neck and neck as they bolted toward the finish.

It was only the slightest lean at the end that gave Love the title with a time of 24.13 seconds. Baxter clocked in at 24.17 seconds.

The win was the freshman's second head-to-head victory of the day against Baxter, marking the start of one spectacular high school career and the end of another.

"She's amazing," Baxter said about Love. "She's going to kick butt the next [three] years. She'll do great, and I'm excited I've gotten to run with her."

Before the weekend's state meet at BYU, the two only had raced head-to-head once — a Love victory. But as they jockeyed all year for records, all paths were leading to a final showdown with state title crowns on the line.

Nobody was looking forward to it more than the two racers.

"I love having the competition," Love said. "I just think it's a blast. I want to race her every time because I love the competition."

Baxter agreed.

"It's good," she said. "I think I do my best when there's someone out ahead. It's really exciting when I get to race against her."

Baxter, a long-legged 6-footer who will race at BYU next year, has been a force in the Utah high school track scene from the beginning of her career.

Love, a converted gymnast whose powerful frame belies her age, has followed in those footsteps as she's toppled state records this year.

Love said she felt no extra nerves entering her first state meet.

"I just think that it's not any bigger than a regular meet," she said.

And the youngster showed poise from the very beginning.

In the 100-meter finals, Love and Baxter paced the field, with Love coming away with the win. Her time of 11.94 was just short of the 11.90 Class 4A record she set just a few weeks earlier.

For a runner as talented as Baxter, however, the day would not be all second bests.

Baxter was focused on toppling a 4A record in the 400, a race in which Love did not compete. But even on a wet track and in less than ideal conditions, Baxter sprinted her way into the record books with a time of 54.45.

"It's my senior year and I've been chasing that record down for a while," she said. "It just feels really good to finally get it." —

A closer look

Girls' 4A 100 final   

1 • Kaysha Love, Fr, Herriman, 11.94

2 • Lauren Baxter, Sr, Timpview, 12.14

Girls' 4A 200 final   

1 • Kaysha Love, Fr, Herriman, 24.13

2 • Lauren Baxter, Sr, Timpview, 24.17