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Duncan, a shooting star

It's easy to see what Lexy Duncan does during her events. She is explosive in her jumps and can run a lap around the track as well as any girl in the state. But what does she do between her events?

"I sleep," the Dixon senior said. "Well, I don't really sleep. I just find a quiet place to lay and close my eyes. I still hear everything, but I'm really relaxed.

"I just try to picture what I'm about to do."

Duncan must have pictured herself dominating her peers during Friday's Class 2A girls state track and field preliminaries at Eastern Illinois in Charleston, because that is exactly what happened.

Duncan started off the day around 8 a.m. with the long jump. She wore sweatpants and a purple shirt in warmups and when she shook her head, her hair touched the shooting star that she had shaved into her head before the state meet.

She usually does something related to breast cancer, but this time, her mother told her to do something fun for her senior year.

A little after 8 a.m., Duncan flew like that star. She kept her eyes on the pit she would soon be landing and raced down the dirtied blue runway and took off. She traveled 18 feet, 4 inches.

In the air.

That jump propelled her with the longest jump heading into Saturday's finals, and the only distance over 18 feet.

"I felt awesome," she said with a smile, her braces glinting in the light. "I wasn't as tired as usual."

So much for that. Back to sleep before her legs are again.

Duncan found some real estate and closed her eyes before it was her turn to rock the meet again in the 400.

She won the final heat, and made it to Saturday's finals with the second-fastest time of 56.54, dropping more than a second off her previous best time. And to top that off, she ran the anchor leg on the Duchesses school-record breaking 1,600 relay team.

While I was watching her set personal records and set even higher marks for her to potentially break on Saturday, I noticed she had a calmness about her which is rare at the state meet.

So, I went in search of the people who knew her best and headed into the grandstand at O'Brien Field to see what it was like for her family members to watch her smash old barriers.

Duncan's mother, Cece Duncan, was sitting near the aisle in the seventh row nearest to the finish line. A fine seat.

"I am so nervous watching her," Cece said while holding a camera in one hand and the heat sheet in the other. "I'm a wreck."

But what helps keep Cece calm is knowing that her daughter approaches her events with a confidence. She knows that her daughter can handle it, when sometimes she may not be able to.

In talking with Cece about her daughter, her memory was jogged into thinking back 4 years ago to something that Lexy had told her.

"She told me, 'I'm going to make a goal to come back [to state] every year,' " Cece said. "And here we are again."

Here we are again is right. During her sophomore year, Duncan placed fourth in the state with a jump of 17-10 – her best. How about this year?

"I want to medal," Lexy said, "or maybe I'll try to win one."

Will she be able to stand in the middle of the podium? I can't wait for Saturday to find out.

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