Southerland Pulls Off the RunningLane 800m/Mile Double

Nicki Southerland has had a near-perfect final high school outdoor season where she has won almost every individual event she has participated in.

The only exception in 2024 has been the Carmel 3,200m Showcase which featured a great battle between her and junior standout Ava Jarrell and finished with the pair going 10:11 and 10:13 for the sixth- and seventh-fastest times in Indiana girls 3,200m history.

But Southerland entered the weekend with a chip on her shoulder from last year's RunningLane 800m championship result, where she just missed out on winning the title by a mere two-hundredths of a second.

She also likely felt the pressure to defend her mile title she earned last season.

But she did just that, winning the 800m and mile double across Friday and Saturday at the RunningLane Track Championships, clocking times of 2:05.14 and 4:40.51, respectively. 

The best 800m race of the season heading into the meet for the University of Notre Dame commit came from the Hoosier Heritage Conference Championships, where she clocked a time of 2:07.64 after running a PR of 4:42.65 just about an hour earlier in the evening.

In her first race of the day, Nicki started in lane 5 and positioned herself in second after the break. She let Georgia 6A 800m State Champion Oluwatosin Awoleye do the work early before taking the lead heading into the bell lap with a split of 62.79. Coming down the final 200m, it became a three-girl race with Elena Rybak, the Illinois 1A 800m State Champion, charging hard to pass Oluwatosin in the final moments for the runner-up finish. Both would not have enough to take down Southerland, who closed in a 62.35, the only girl to negative split in the championship field.

RunningLane Girls 800m Championship Top 3
1stNicki SoutherlandIndiana2:05.14
2ndElena RybakIllinois2:06.98
3rdOluwatosin AwoleyeGeorgia2:07.17

After having a few hours to recover from her 800m effort, the lights shone and the flamethrowers ignited as the Girls Championship Mile would take the track. This race would feature 18 girls with seed times of 4:55 or faster. Nicki would have the fastest, being seeded at 4:43.

Southerland would start from the upper waterfall and fall right behind the pacer who would separate herself from the pack early, splitting a 68 opener lap. Payton Meineke, the Colorado 4A 1600m runner-up, would be side-by-side on Southerland's outside shoulder, with the duo going through at 70.63 and 70.64 respectively. Arkansas' Gabbie Bishop would also be within half a second as she would go 70.88 before all three would clock a 2:21 at the halfway point.

By the time Southerland hit the 1K mark, she would start to create a slight gap that would continue to grow as they approached the bell lap. Nicki would hit yet another 70 split as it would now be a race against the clock to see how fast she could go. The crowd would pack the final stretch of the track and bring her home to finish with a 66.75 split to run a 4:40.51 mile.

RunningLane Girls Mile Championship Top 3
1stNicki SoutherlandIndiana4:38.884:40.51
2ndPayton MeinekeColorado4:44.784:46.67
3rdGabbie BishopArkansas4:45.024:46.92


This would be a massive personal record for the Delta senior, taking nearly four seconds off her previous 1600m mark of 4:42 to move up to #2 all-time in Indiana girls history. Six other girls would finish close behind, breaking 4:50 for the mile, with an additional nine under 5 minutes.

Nicki would be just off the meet record set by the one girl that is still ahead of her on the Indiana all-time 1600m list, Addy Wiley. Wiley signed a professional deal with Adidas earlier this year and ran a 4:38.14 at the 2021 RunningLane Track Championships.

Southerland has the 2024 IHSAA State Championships on deck next Friday where she will be doubling again in the 800m/1600m. She is currently ranked third/second all time for girls in Indiana for the 800m/1600m and will attempt to successfully win that double championship as well next weekend.

* Southerland races to a 4:40.51 to win the mile.