Baylee Mires is headed to the Olympic track and field trials hoping it’s a dry run for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games.
A former standout runner at Mead, Mires completed her eligibility this spring at the University of Washington. She qualified for the trials when she placed third in the 800 meters at the Brooks PR Invite June 18 in Renton, Washington.
Her time of 2 minutes, 2.97 seconds was under the trials automatic standard (2:03.00).
The time also broke her UW record for the ninth time. Her previous best (2:03.91) came when she placed third in the Pac-12 Championships. It was the first time she had been under 2:04. She placed eighth (2:03.92) at the NCAA outdoor championships.
“All season I was hoping for that,” Mires said of eclipsing the Olympic qualifying standard. “With it being an Olympic year, I was chasing that standard. (Renton) was one of the last shots to go out and get it.”
Mires took nearly a second off her previous best. The race included a rabbit who took the pace out quickly before dropping out just after the first lap. Mires was in seventh in a tight pack with about 200 meters to go.
She took advantage of one of her strengths – a sprinter’s kick – to finish fast and take third.
“I didn’t focus too much on it (the standard),” Mires said. “I stayed relaxed. When I crossed the finish line I couldn’t see the (scoreboard). All of a sudden I heard my teammates hollering so I figured I had done it.”
Mires signed a professional contract with Seattle-based Brooks on Monday. She wore her UW singlet at Renton but will be sporting Brooks attire Friday during her 800 heat at the University of Oregon.
“I’m kind of at the point I could go another second lower,” Mires said. “I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and the competition will definitely push me. It’ll be the best in the country.”
No matter what happens in Eugene, Mires is thrilled to be running professionally.
“I’ve wanted to be a professional athlete all my life,” Mires said. “So I got one of my goals. The next is to qualify for the Olympics.”
It’s highly unlikely that Mires will reach the second goal this weekend. But considering how much she’s improved in the last month, having the carrot in front of her will likely pull out her best.
Mires went into her senior season with a personal best of 2:05.14. She seemed to be stuck in that range until breaking through last month.
An early childhood education and nutrition major, Mires credited much of her improvement to having had her academics wrapped up before spring.
“I was able to put all of my efforts into running fast,” she said.
The top 16 make the semifinal round on Saturday with the top eight moving on to the finals on July 4. The top three advance to the Olympics if they run the A standard (2:01.5).
“This is a chance to dip my toes into what the Olympic cycle will be like later for me,” Mires said. “It’s a dream to say I’m a professional runner. I have to keep pinching myself.”