Minutes passed as if they were hours during the afternoon of June 2 for Haleigh Reindl.
The senior was awaiting the start of the Division 1 800-meter race during the WIAA Track & Field Championships at UW-LaCrosse. She had placed second as a junior and had devoted endless hours during the previous year to go out on top.
It’s just that the 3 p.m. start time for the race was seemingly an eternity away even as the afternoon wore on.
“I just remember waiting,” she said. “I was excited to run the race, but I had to wait until 3 and that kind of sucked. Just sitting there and trying not to warm up was very difficult.”
Reindl did a little jogging. Her teammates braided her hair. She engaged in some small talk.
And when the starter’s gun was finally fired, Reindl was ready.
Following her race strategy almost flawlessly, Reindl set a school record in winning her event in 2:09.66. Not only did she finish more than four seconds ahead of runner-up Becca Langer of Waukesha West (2:13.81), Reindl came close to setting a state record.
That was set by Cami Davre of Whitefish Bay, the four-time 800 champion who set the state record of 2:09.22 in 2015. However, Reindl did run a faster time than the previous record holder, former Olympian Suzy Favor of Stevens Point (2:09.88 in 1985).
“I went into it thinking I wanted to run a 62 (seconds) for my first 400 and I ran a 63,” she said. “I knew that on the third 200, I was going to have to push on it. The only thing that went wrong is that I had a 63 instead of a 62 on my first 400.”
Reindl did more than threaten a state record during the final race of her high school career. She became the first gold medalist for Waterford since Amy Lewnadowski won the shot put in 1996.
She also completed her career at Waterford with four state medals. She placed sixth in the 800 as a sophomore, second as a junior and anchored the Wolverines’ fifth-place 4x800 relay with a personal-best split of 2:10 as a senior.
“It still hasn’t sunken in yet,” Reindl said of her state championship. “I watched the race multiple times and it doesn’t seem like I ran that kind of race. When people talk about it, it doesn’t feel real.
“It was just a goal of mine to do it and I’m glad it came true.”
Reindl earned a partial scholarship to Minnesota-Duluth and alternated between the team’s No. 8 and No. 9 runner on the cross country team last fall. While she still has a long way to go at Minnesota-Duluth, Reindl will always have the satisfaction of knowing she completed her ultimate goal at Waterford.
“I worked really hard that winter and spring,” she said. “The goal since the beginning was to win it and I did. The only thing that didn’t happen is I didn’t break that record.”