Lexie Gilbert said something ominous for her competitors at the state track meet.

She won the 100 and 200 meters as a freshman in 2017, and now, “I kinda know what I’m doing this time.”

The Elkhorn runner spent last season eyeing the marks of state champion Mika Brees of Seward. This year, it’s other runners looking at Gilbert.

Her chief competition is Lexington’s Madison Smith, who has Class B’s top mark in the 100, 200 and 400. The last doesn’t concern Gilbert; her only other event is the 400 relay. The distance between the schools have prevented Smith and Gilbert from running against each other until Saturday’s sprint finals.

“I’m excited to run against her and I’m more eager than ever to defend my title,” said Gilbert, who breezed through her qualifying races Friday. “We’re both really good competitors, and she’s really strong.”

Smith, who placed third in the long jump Friday, takes a different approach.

“I haven’t been looking forward to running against anybody. I don’t pay attention to stats of other people,” Smith said. “I’m not going to be stressing about running against anybody else.”

Smith said her most important run is the 400, and for good reason. She finished third in the race at last year’s state meet after having her knee lock up with 50 meters left. She is not sure if she would have won, but the mystery lingers.

“I’m so disappointed in how it came out last year,” Smith said. “It’s done and over with. I’m trying to be in the moment.”

Smith posted the fastest qualifying time in the 400 Friday, one of five competitors to finish in under a minute.

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