Qualifying for the 2016 state track meet in any fashion would’ve seemed like far-fetched proposal to Trego freshman Helen Geifer a year ago, but after rapid improvement, she’s head to Wichita in three events for her first state track meet.

“I couldn’t even imagine going to state in one (event),” she said.

This weekend, she’ll compete in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races in addition to handling a leg on the Eagles’ 3200 relay team.

An offseason training program that featured 10-mile runs, hill and stair workouts and interval training has allowed the Eagle distance runner to have an impact in her first season of high school track and field.

“I wasn’t really expecting it,” Geifer said. “Last year, I could probably run about a seven-minute mile, fastest, but I’ve been training really hard over the year. I’m glad it has paid off.”

The intense training has left her most comfortable in the 3,200 race. She placed second in the event at Thursday’s Class 2A regional in Hill City with a time of 12:03.35.

“The farther I run, the better I am,” Geifer said.

Her time of 5:38.41 placed fourth in the 1,600, while the Trego 3,200 relay team qualified with a third-place finish. One of the few things preventing her from being even faster is a shooting pain she occasionally has to battle during races.

“I get side stitches a lot when I run,” Geifer said. “I’ve always gotten them.

“I pretty much have to fight through it because it’s hard for me to get rid of them if I can’t stop.”

In the week leading up to the event, Geifer planned to take a break from the taxing 10-mile training runs to opt for shorter, more explosive workouts.

As I get closer to my more important races, I try to focus more on the speed, doing in sprints in practice,” Geifer said.

“Just to try and get some speed in there, because I’m not much of a sprinter.”

The freshman showcased her comfort in distance races by finishing third in the state cross country meet this fall. While the state track and field meet is different in nature, the Trego freshman still thinks her experience in the fall will pay off this spring.

“State cross country was certainly the most crowded place, the most people cheering and stuff,” Geifer said. “I think it will help me get prepared for state track too.”