What the Hall sisters did earlier this month may or may not have been a first in New York State girls track history. What is certain, though, is that what they did was clearly unique and special, not only for their family but for the folks in Section 6 who witnessed something you don't get to see very often - four sisters teaming up to win a relay.
Sweet Home's Lanee, Amari, Kimaya and Ellana Hall joined forces on June 2 for their team's 4X1 relay in a dual meet against West Seneca West. It was largely a spur of the moment grouping that proved to be effective as the girls teamed to run 52.8 and win the race. That they are so far apart in age and experience levels made the victory that much more impressive. Lanee Hall, 16, is a junior, Amari Hall, 15, is a sophomore, Kimaya Hall, 14, is in eighth grade and Ellana Hall, 12, is in seventh grade.
"I had never seen it before," said Lari MacPeek, who is the Sweet Home indoor varsity and modified cross country coach. "It's extraordinary in a number of ways that they are all so talented and able to compete. They just started working on it the day before the race. We just said 'Hey, do you think you might want to try and run together'. We definitely wanted to do it next year because Lanee is going to be a senior.
"I wasn't worried. We knew they would be absolutely fine. They were working on handoffs [the day before]. While they had all been part of relays before the four of them in one solid relay is something they had never done before. We just wanted them to have fun and have that experience together. We had an opportunity and they have the talent so why not try it? There was really no pressure to beat anyone."
The running order was Ellana, Amari, Kimaya and Lanee. While there were some pre-race jitters, the quartet handled the event with aplomb to pick up a convincing victory. The handoffs went smoothly and Lanee Hall easily outran the field to close things out in comfortable fashion.
"I was really nervous when I was lining up but I had to stay calm because my little sisters were super nervous," Lanee Hall said. "When Kamaya was running up full speed [to me], I was just getting ready to take off. I was just going through everything how I was supposed to. At that point I was really confident.
"At first I was nervous for Ellana and how scared she was to get up on that line. But she did a really good job and I am proud of her how she handled everything. I think it was really successful and I expect to keep running together. It does make it a little more difficult when you're practicing because it's easier to find something to get mad about [with your sisters] but that just makes us want to work harder to perfect it."
Lanee Hall, who has been running since seventh grade and on the varsity team since eighth grade, sheepishly admits that she is probably the strongest runner of the group but is quick to point out that each of her sisters has her own strong points that make them special as individuals and in their solo events.
She did describe herself as "the boss", a point her sisters didn't dispute.
"She definitely is the boss but not in a bad way," Amari Hall said. "I feel like it's easier to listen to her. And, I look up to her when she tells me something; I want to listen as opposed to someone else. Who is the best? I'd probably go with Lanee. She has the most stamina and the fastest times. Even the three of us combined do not work as hard as she does.
"She has the most determination and dedication. I feel like ever since I started running with her, I've always looked up to her and want to be like her. Every time she runs, it amazes me how talented she is."
Amari Hall also fills that role with her younger sisters. She is also a role model and says that she prefers running with her siblings because it is a "fun experience". Amari Hall added that practicing for the race was also easy, so easy in fact that that it seemed like the foursome had been doing it for a while.
"We can honestly be really good," Amari Hall said. "I feel like we could be the best relay on the team."
Kimaya Hall said that she enjoys running with her older sisters because they treat her like an equal. She added that running with them felt comfortable and that she felt less nervous than if she were running with other people.
"I feel it's kind of easy running with them," Kimaya Hall said. "I was kind of nervous and didn't know what to expect but they didn't pull rank. I just know them and feel more comfortable around them."
Ellana Hall's effort was probably the most important of the group. She said she was nervous because she is "not the best at handoffs" and that was on her mind quite a bit because she didn't want to make a mistake. Still, she got out of the blocks quickly and put her sister in a good spot for the first handoff.
"I had some extra adrenaline," Ellana Hall said. "I think ran faster than I normally do so I think it went really well."
MacPeek said that the quartet could run together again at the upcoming class meet and definitely at the Section 6 Meet.
"We will absolutely put them back together," MacPeek said. "They are terrific kids and a terrific family. They will go far in life."