Junior Svea Wichelgren hands off the baton to senior Ashley Struck in the 4x4 final at the Patriot outdoor Championships 2023. Struck and Wichelgren recently competed in the 4x400 and beat a Lehigh record at the Villanova invitational on Jan. 22. (Connor Malinger/B&W Staff)

Lehigh women’s track 4×400 relay breaks school record


On Jan. 20, at the Villanova Invitational, senior Ashley Struck, junior Svea Wickelgren and sophomores Abby Klebe and Grace Kennedy competed in the 4×400 relay and broke Lehigh’s record. 

With a time of 3:52.77, Struck, Wickelgren, Klebe and Kennedy dominated the meet and left their mark. It was the four girls’ first time competing together as a relay team. 

Struck has broken numerous school records as both an individual and on a team throughout her four years at Lehigh, but says this one felt extra special. 

“This was a record that I’ve been wanting and hoping to get since I got here, and it was really exciting to do that with my friends,” Struck said. “To do that with these three other girls who push me every day to be better was so special.”

Over the past two months, Lehigh’s women’s track and field team has competed in 10 regular season meets in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York, breaking five school records.

With 2024 being Struck’s senior season, she says it has been bittersweet, however, she appreciates every moment and is motivated to give her best effort for her teammates in every race of the season. 

When you run a relay, you really are running that not just for yourself, but for the three other girls who need you to show up for them,” Struck said.

Struck noted that the dynamic teamwork of the relay group has echoed throughout the entire team.  

Klebe said chemistry is the glue that ties the relay team together. 

“The chemistry, especially with the four girls on the relay team, came naturally here and we’re all good friends. Our relay team that broke the record was made up of two different event groups” Klebe said. “Track is a sport that kind of forces you to bond because it’s so painful, and you kind of need to make it a happy experience.” 

Klebe said the connection between the four girls remains strong, despite them participating in different track events. 

Coach Khayla Atte said the ability for each member to have confidence in their teammates is what makes the 4×400 relay team so successful.

“It’s really a collection of building skills to get to have confidence in themselves, confidence in their training and confidence in their teammates,” Atte said. “Everyone has to play their role, be willing to play their role and understand that they have to bring the best version of themselves and they can’t just simply expect someone else to do the work. If everyone does their work individually, and they believe in each other, it will happen.”

Atte’s team has grown into their roles on the 4×400 relay teams, but she says she has seen the most growth as they transition into adults. 

“I’ve really worked on trying to help the athletes understand that transitioning into adulthood is about learning how to advocate for yourself with respect to your environment, your circumstance and the authority that you have to come under,” Atte said. 

Still, the team needs to advocate for themselves in the most important meets of the winter season. 

The team has its sights on winning the Patriot League Championships. This year’s competition will be in Boston, Massachusetts, on Feb. 24 and 25. 

They said they expect the results to show for themselves.

“We are very confident and the more times we run it, the better we can get,” Klebe said. “I think we’re going to be very competitive at the championships.”

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