Nothing was going to stand in the way of the St. Anthony's girls 1,600-meter sprint medley relay team and a spot in February's Millrose Games. So, when a member of the quartet came down with the flu just days before Wednesday's trials at The Armory in Manhattan, all the Friars had to do was pluck a runner from their enormously deep team and continue onward.
That runner was Steph Leo. The junior found out on Monday that she would be running with the Friars' top relay crew.
"I think she did an excellent job," coach Olivier St. Aude said. "When [I said] she was running on the 'A' team, she smiled and said 'I'll do it.' [She's] a trooper."
Despite the change, the team didn't miss a beat. Leo, along with Megan Fiedler, Melissa June and Michaela Mincone won the qualifying CHSAA 1,600 sprint medley relay in 4 minutes, 16.58 seconds.
The time earned them a spot in the same event at the Millrose Games, to be held Feb. 16 at The Armory.
"We ran all phases of the race pretty well," St. Aude said.
The strong performance by Leo was not lost on her teammates, either. "She brought her 'A' game," Fiedler said.
The team was able to work together on Monday and Tuesday in order to make baton exchanges as seamless as possible.
The practice worked.
"They were pretty clean," St. Aude said of Wednesday night's exchanges. "They can always be better, but the goal is to get the baton around and [they] did that."
Fiedler, a senior, will be competing at the Millrose Games for the fourth consecutive year. She, along with her teammates, can't wait to go back.
"We're ecstatic," she said.
But the race to a victory at the famous meet has only just begun. After all, winning qualifiers only gives the team a chance to experience Millrose glory. With Holy Trinity, Kellenberg and St. John the Baptist also in the final field, the St. Anthony's team knows it has formidable competition.
"It's not going to be an easy win," St. Aude said. "It's just going to be another Catholic school battle."