Keara Seasholtz wasn't too concerned with her competitors in the girls 800 meters at the PTFCA Indoor State Championships.
Sure, the Radnor senior was well-aware of the resumes of the other girls on the line with her on Sunday afternoon at Penn State's Ashenfelter Track in an always-stacked event in the Keystone State. But instead of flooding her mind with stats and such, Seasholtz decided to focus on the one aspect she knew she could control: herself.
That proved to be a winning mindset for the University of Virginia signee.
Perhaps before the rest of the field realized what happened, Seasholtz opened up a gap on the field that proved to be insurmountable.
She was all alone out front, and on the final lap, everyone else ran out of real estate and Seaholtz rolled home to her first state championship in a time of 2:10.88, the fastest time this season in Pennsylvania and a US No. 13 clocking.
"I had the plan to just lay it all out on the track," Seasholtz said. "I really didn't want to have any regrets going in."
On the opening lap, Seasholtz won the race to the rail and led the field through the first 200 meters in 32.03 seconds. A host of contenders were right there with her, which included the Neumann Goretti's Kami Joi Hickson, the Friends' Central duo of Miracle Price and Micah Trusty, and the top seed and defending indoor state champion Taryn Parks of Greencastle-Antrim.
But on the second lap, Seasholtz extended her lead and didn't receive an answer from that pack. She split 1:04.90 through the opening quarter and had about a second and a half lead on second Hickson.
It wasn't that Seasholtz didn't have an impressive resume of her own coming into Sunday. As a junior, Seasholtz ran 2:10.00 at the PIAA State Championships to take second at Shippensburg in the spring. While she entered indoor states as the sixth seed, she was having a strong winter that included a second place finish to New Jersey's Valerie Vanriele at the midseason Kevin Dare Invitational, as well as a victory at the PTFCA Indoor Track Carnival.
The third lap was more of the same for Seasholtz. As the bell sounded she now put over two seconds on second place with a 33.21 200 meter split for the third lap.
Then it was onto the final lap. Parks, who was sitting in third behind Hickson made a move around the first turn into second position and then cranked up the motor on the backstretch.
But Seasholtz wasn't yielding much. She closed in a last-lap 32.78 and ran to the victory to win by about a second over Parks, who would settle for second place in 2:11.75.
"The last lap was really a test for me -- it was kind of hard, but I just had to give it all I got," she said.
The other top contenders in the field came into the open 800 on some tired legs, whereas Seasholtz was fresh. Even still, did the field think she would come back to them? Did they not have the gas in the tank to answer Seasholtz torrid early pace? Whatever the case may be, it set the stage for Seasholtz to cruise to the state title, in addition to over a five second improvement on her season best coming into the race.
For the newly-crowned state champion, it was all about blocking out the factors she couldn't control.
"The race is against yourself in the end," Seasholtz added. "Obviously I don't want someone to beat me, but I'm pushing against myself and I just tried to push with all I got and not worry about everyone else."
It wasn't that the win didn't come as a surprise to Seasholtz. The senior was seemingly still in a state of shock in the moments after her victory. But she had a trust in the training and an aggressiveness that gave her the opportunity to be in the mix on Sunday. It resulted in the best moment of her career so far.
"There's a lot of self-doubt before you go into it -- you're questioning everything," she said. "But I think yesterday when I was thinking through all the training that I had and just how I feel in general, I think I knew I had something in me today, but I surprised myself still."
It's onto the outdoor season for Seasholtz, who will enter the spring as the state's No. 4 returner based on her PR from last year and AAA's top returner based on state meet finish. With a 2:10.88 already in her back pocket from this indoor season, Seasholtz is likely gearing up for one last special high school season before she heads to Charlottesville in the fall.
"This boosted my confidence a lot because I'm right back where my outdoor PR is," Seasholtz said. "I'm really excited for spring track because I can work towards getting bigger PRs this season."