High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: north carolina

Bile, Burcham and Margey break through

June, 17, 2012
2012 NBNO SaturdayJohn Dye/ESPNHSAhmed Bile wins 800 - Kelsey Margey wins girls mile - Jacob Burcham wins boys mile

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- All three of them had built stellar resumes, made numerous appearances in big national races, and produced a lot of near-misses.

But Ahmed Bile (Annandale, Va.), Jacob Burcham (Ona, W.V.) and Kelsey Margey (Long Island, N.Y.) all became national champions on Saturday during the final day of competition at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor championships at Greensboro, N.C.

In a meet where some of the star power was siphoned off by the U.S. Junior Championships, all three of these first-time winners earned legit titles.

Bile, son of 1987 world 1,500 champ Abdi Bile, found an open seam in Lane 1 and strode past Zavon Watkins to win the 800 meters in a personal best 1:49.85.

"With 100 to go I thought, 'Well second isn't that bad,'" Bile said. "The whole inside lane opened up and I was like 'I think I could catch him if I go on the inside.' But it was a little risky. I'm just speechless."

Watkins was speechless, too. The senior from Liverpool, N.Y. could almost reach out and touch the national title it was so close. And in the blink of any eye, Bile's 6-foot-4 frame swept past him. Watkins ran 1:49.98.

"I was heartbroken," Watkins said. "I didn't hear him, I didn't see him. If I had I would have stepped over (into lane one) and stepped through, but it happens."

Bile had finished seventh at the adidas Dream Mile, fifth at the Penn Relays mile, and been a top-15 finisher twice at Foot Locker in cross country. Last year in the New Balance 800 he was fourth.

"It was my last high school race and I really wanted to go out with a bang," said Bile, who will enter Georgetown in the fall.

Burcham, a junior, was second in the Brooks PR Invite mile (Feb.), second in the Penn Relays mile (April) and second at the adidas Dream Mile (June). Those experiences all added up to something. He was the class of the field in Greensboro, pulling away almost immediately from a field that included Connecticut champion Henry Wynne and New Balance 5K champion Jake Leingang of North Dakota.

"I planned to go a little faster but it didn't work out," Burcham said. "I still won and that was all that I cared about, really."

Burcham ran 4:08.80 and was more than two seconds clear of the field.

"I should have some confidence knowing I won my last race of the year, and national champion (sounds) good too," he said.

Margey was part of Nike's Elite camp last summer and had placed third and sixth, respectively, in the New Balance Outdoors mile in 2010 and 2011. She had placed in the top five in a wide variety of big events, including fourth at the Manhattan Invitational (cross country), fourth at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, third at the adidas Dream Mile (in 2010) and second at Penn Relays (in 2011).

She came into New Balance Outdoors fresh off a victory at the New York state meet in the 800 and second place in the 1,500.

On Saturday, she smartly ran the kick out of defending champion Wesley Frazier (Raleigh, N.C.) by pushing from 800 meters out and cruised to the win in 4:45.84. The Friends Academy senior will attend Villanova in the fall.

2012 NBNO Saturday
John Dye/ESPNHSKadecia Baird wins 400
"The spring season of my senior year I grew a lot and got a lot stronger, physically and mentally," Margey said. "Today it all came together for me. I was nervous because it was my last race and it means a lot. I was really happy with how I did."

Frazier, for the second year in a row, was irrepressible despite an ambitious schedule. On Saturday, she ran the mile in 4:48.28 for second place and then less than half an hour later ran a 4:48 split for 1,600 meters on her team's distance medley relay, kicking late to grab fourth.

In seven championship races over 2011 and 2012 (six individual, one relay), Frazier has won three times and never finished outside the top four.

"I was tired. My legs were so heavy," Frazier said of the short recovery after the mile. "I was just like, 'I've just got to go one more mile. I can do it.'"

Frazier barely had time to think about her second place finish in the mile. She went straight to the check-in area to get a new hip number and confer with her teammates for the DMR. She was determined to finish in the top six so her three teammates, including freshman sister Ryen, could make All-American.

Another gutsy double came from Robert Rhodes of Boys and Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who finished third in the 800 (1:50.53) and then quickly turned around and split 47.5 to anchor his team's 4x400 to victory in 3:14.95.

Rhodes had made a bold promise back in November that he would break his coach's school record in the 800 (1:50.83) by the time he graduated. After he hit the finish line he had no idea whether he had kept his promise but he laid on the ground for several minutes. It was a sweet relief that he had come through because a weak earlier he had faltered and run 1:54.06 and placed fourth at the New York state meet.

After accepting his third-place award, Rhodes jogged over to get his sweats and then found his teammates.

"I told my teammates, 'Listen, usually I'm the one coming through for you guys. Today, you guys have to come through for me because I'm very tired,'" Rhodes said. "And my third leg got me the lead and I was able to hold it."

2012 NBNO Saturday
John Dye/ESPNHSBoys and Girls wins 4x400
Earlier in the day, Sam Mattis of East Brunswick, N.J. successfully defended his title in the discus. He sent three towering throws beyond 200 feet on his fourth, fifth and sixth attempts and won it with 203-2.

"It wasn't perfect but it was a national championship and a good way to end the season," said Mattis, who concluded his senior year ranked No. 1 with 218-4. He had winning throws in excess of 200 feet in five meets this spring.

Carla Forbes of Newtonville, Mass. swept the horizontal jumps, taking the long jump crown with 19-9 to complete an unbeaten spring. Forbes, a junior, won the triple jump on Saturday with 42-9.50.

The other double winner was sophomore Ky Westbrook of Chandler, Ariz., who added the 200 (23.92w) to the 100 title she won Friday.

Kadecia Baird of Brooklyn (Medgar Evers) turned in one of the most impressive performances of the day by winning the 400 in US#1 52.12. But she opted out of the 200 final despite running 23.26 (+3.5w) in the prelims.

Raevyn Rogers, a sophomore from Houston, Texas, hadn't raced since May 4 because of a hamstring injury but she returned to form and ran a surprising US#4 2:05.50 to win the 800 meters. That race also included amazing seventh grader Daesha Rogers from Plantation, Fla., who placed sixth in 2:09.89.

The girls from Ridgewood, N.J., who came to the meet hoping that with two chances they could get at least one podium finish, instead got two national championships. Anchored by freshman, Catherine Pagano, Ridgewood ran US#4 11:50.73 to win the distance medley relay just one day after a stunning win in the 4x800.

Marshfield (Mass.) won the boys DMR with US#1 10:01.32 as anchor leg Joel Hubbard closed his 1,600-meter leg with a 58-second last lap.

Shawn Barber of Kingwood Park, Texas won the pole vault with 16-4 but his real achievement this weekend may have been survival. Barber, his father, and two companions rented an SUV and drove it from their home near Houston and drove it to Bloomington, Ind. so he could compete at U.S. Juniors on Friday (16-4.75 for sixth). As soon as that was over, they packed up and drove to Greensboro for Saturday's competition.

Was the road trip fun?

"It was fun if you like driving," Barber dead-panned. Before the sun was down, he was packed up and on the road again, headed west for Texas and the final leg of a 2,600-mile odyssey.

Other athletes may have dug deeper for their titles at this meet. None were as travel-weary as Barber.

CBA boys savor another championship ring

June, 16, 2012
2012 NBNO 4x800John Dye/ESPNHSCBA gets lead over Westfield and Red Tide

GREENSBORO, N.C. – As he studied his options for a championship keepsake, George Kelly turned in his folding chair and asked Christian Brothers Academy assistant coach Chris Bennett a question:

“When you get a second ring what finger does it go on?” Kelly asked.

Kelly and his CBA teammates were on top of the world Friday night at New Balance Nationals Outdoor after running No. 11 all-time 7:34.67 to win the 4x800 relay. The New Jersey school won the Nike Cross Nationals last December, but there have been some trying times since then.

At NBN Indoor, CBA didn’t perform up to their usual standards.

And at Penn Relays, Kelly took the baton in the distance medley relay with a huge lead but misplayed it and lost to Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict’s. Kelly, who bleeds for his school, was crestfallen that day. He went home feeling blue and soon became sick and missed 10 days of training.

Everything after that was a slow process of building up to what happened Friday – an anchor leg of 1:53.10 – and Kelly’s will to get to the finish line first. Westfield (Va.), the Penn Relays champs and national leaders, improved by more than four seconds but had to settle for second in 7:35.10.

“(Westfield) is an awesome team,” Kelly said. “We weren’t going for (a fast) time. We just wanted to win.”

Kelly has been the face of the CBA franchise this year and the emotion that wears – from elation to despair – have told the story of the program in 2011-12.

How did he bounce back after Penn?

“I did every little thing that I possibly could,” Kelly said. “I made sure I would never let my team down again like I did at Penn. I didn’t want that feeling. I wanted to make sure I gave 110 percent in every single thing. I did it, and it paid off.”

Kevin Olsen, Clark Mangini and Tim Gorman got the baton to Kelly with a chance to earn some redemption. The same ‘A’ group will go after the distance medley title on Saturday.

More hardware for two-mile champs

Wesley Frazier and Cheserek know a thing or two about multiple rings.

Frazier, who lives an hour away in Raleigh, earned the NBNO in a third distance event on Friday, sprinting past Natalie Shields of Utah to win the two-mile in US#1 10:13.43. In 2011, Frazier won the 5,000 and the mile.

This year, the junior from Ravencroft School is tackling four events. She placed third in the 5,000 on Thursday and has the mile and the 1,600-meter leg on her team’s DMR still to come on Saturday.

Frazier said the secret to racing all of those laps is ice. She sits on bags of ice in the car on the way home each night.

“Icing has a lot to do with (success),” Frazier said. She got a lot of sleep, took an ice bath, and was good as new after a somewhat sluggish 5,000 the night before.

“I felt a lot of pressure because of last year and didn’t feel very good in the (5,000),” she said. “I felt tired at the end. I hoped to have a better finish (Friday).”

There were six girls still together at the front with a lap to go. Dana Giordano of Bernardsville, N.J. made a move to the lead with 300 meters left. Shields, of Salt Lake City, was in the lead coming off the final turn.

But Frazier, who ran a state record 4:42.78 mile in New York City last weekend, kicked into overdrive and her speed carried her to the win.

Cheserek will travel home to Kenya on Monday and see his family for the first time since he arrived at St. Benedict’s in the summer of 2010. He could show off a bagful of rings and other awards when he gets there.

The junior had things go haywire earlier in the afternoon during the sprint medley relay but came back to run expertly in the two-mile, which he won in 8:55.12. Cheserek played the right notes, asserting himself at key moments and yet conserving for a decisive kick over the final 120 meters to break away from Thomas Graham (Cary, N.C.).

In the sprint medley relay, Cheserek took the baton for the 800-meter anchor leg in sixth place and worked his way to first. But after losing the lead with less than 300 meters left, someone bumped him and he dropped the baton. He picked it up and finished last.

“If you have a good day or a bad day, I’m OK with that,” Cheserek said. “We can come back next year and get (the sprint medley) again.”

Cheserek ran comfortably in the pack for much of the two-mile and had the spike marks to prove it on both legs.

Already a prep running legend, Cheserek said he would be back at St. Benedict’s in the fall for his senior year and try to defend his Foot Locker championship. He is due to return from Kenya on July 15.

Graham, bound for Stanford in the fall, finished with a strong 8:56.52. He and others said that Cheserek’s 12th place finish in the Dream Mile (and his difficulty in the sprint medley) showed that he was human.

“I didn’t feel like he was as untouchable as I might have after Foot Locker,” Graham said. “We watched the Dream mile and figured he was coming back from an injury or lost some speed sharpness. My whole strategy was to stay on his shoulder and be ready to cover when his move came.”

Cheserek didn't make his move until he was sure his sprint could overtake Graham.

Big anchors lead sprint medley titles

In the girls sprint medley relay, Megan Moye split 2:08.02 to push Cosby (Va.) to its first national championship. (Later in the evening, Moye ran about 2:09 on the team’s seventh place 4x800 team).

“Going into the final stretch I was pumping my arms to get a kick (going),” Moye said. “I was getting a little wobbly. I just kept thinking I’ve got to get the title and make my team proud.”

Cosby finished in 3:55.17, good for No. 16 all-time.

In the boys sprint medley, Allen Eke ran a ferocious anchor leg in 1:49.39 to lift Union Catholic (Scotch Plains, N.J.) to the title in 3:23.15 – No. 15 all-time. Eke overcame Cheserek's bid for the lead, and behind him, Zavon Watkins anchored in 1:48.05 for second-place Liverpool (N.Y.), which finished in 3:23.98.

“It was insane,” Eke said of the win. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Did that really happen?’”

In the 100-meter finals, Tevin Hester of Oxford (N.C.) ran 10.50 for the victory and his second national championship. He also won the 60-meter title indoors.

Ky Westbrook of Chandler, Ariz. won the girls race in 11.63, a wind-legal PR. Westbrook has been staying busy since winning state titles in Arizona. She competed in Puerto Rico and at last’s Golden West Invitational in California before coming to North Carolina.

“I was extremely nervous,” she said. “I came here thinking it’d be very good competition.”

Carla Forbes of Hyde Park, Mass. also won her second New Balance title of the year, adding the triple jump crown to the one she earned indoors. Forbes cranked out a winning mark of 42-9.50 on her second attempt that was wind-aided (+4.7). It’s an all-conditions best in the country this spring. Runner-up Marshay Ryan of Chambersburg, Pa. improved to US#3 with her wind-legal 42-2.75.

Junior Jeremiah Green of Tampa, Fla. won the boys triple jump with 50-10.25 – taking the title by two feet.

In the hurdles, Skylar Ross-Ransom from Houston ran 13.59 to win the girls title. Zaza Wellington of Swarthmore, Pa. got a narrow win the boys 110 hurdles in 13.91.

In the multis, Kris Horn from Pembroke, Mass. won the decathlon by almost 650 points, with 6,720. In one of the meet’s new events, the octathlon, Zachary McDermott of Christian Brothers Academy score 5,180 and beat Michael Cummings of Hackensack, N.J. on the second tiebreaker criteria (most points in a single event). The first tiebreaker was also a tie because each of them had won four of the eight events.

In the heptathlon, Aaron Howell of Farmington Hills, Mich. scored 5,071 points to win the championship. Howell said her expectation was to score about 4,500 points, but she surprised herself with a 118-8 in the javelin, an event she’d only practiced a couple of times. She earned PRs in six of seven events, everything except the long jump, normally her best event.
Press Release

NEW YORK CITY (May 16, 2012)—Josh Lampron and Ben Malone, who own the two fastest 1500-meter times in the nation so far this season, are among 16 top high school athletes added to the fields for the adidas Dream 100 and adidas Dream Mile at the adidas Grand Prix on June 9, organizers have announced.

Also headlining the roster are Ajee Wilson, the 2011 World Youth Champion at 800 meters, and freshman sensation Alexa Efraimson, the first freshman ever invited to a Dream event.

The Dream 100 and Dream Mile are again destined to be among the most hotly contested events at the adidas Grand Prix on June 9. In its eighth year as one of the premier track-and-field events in the world, the adidas Grand Prix, at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, will feature dozens of Olympic medalists and World Champions, including Yohan Blake, the reigning 100-meter World Champion, and David Rudisha, the 800-meter World Record-holder, who will be making his U.S. debut. The event will again be the sixth stop on the international Samsung Diamond League circuit and is part of the Visa Championships Series. Tickets are now available at adidasgrandprix.com or by calling 1-877-849-8722.

Lampron, a senior from Mansfield, Mass., last weekend ran 3:45.74 for 1500 meters at a meet in Boston, among the top-20 high school times in U.S. history and the fastest in the nation since 2009. The 2011 national champion in the mile, Lampron is a three-time state champion and will attend Villanova University in the fall.

Malone, a junior from Hillsdale, N.J., is the 2012 National Indoor Champion at 800 meters and holds U.S. high school indoor records for a junior at 800 meters (1:49.94) and 1000 meters (2:23.56). On Monday, he ran the #2 time in the U.S. at 1500 meters, 3:49.84.

A senior from Neptune, N.J., Wilson is one of the top high school athletes in New Jersey history. Currently ranked #2 in the nation at 800 meters, she finished the 2012 indoor season ranked #1 at both 600 and 800 meters. A qualifier for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, Wilson will attend Florida State University.

Efraimson, of Camas, Wash., has run 4:23.41 for 1500 meters already this season to rank #4 on the U.S. list, and her time of 2:08.92 for 800 meters is #7. She finished 14th at cross country nationals last fall.

Also accepting invitations to the Boys’ Dream Mile are Jacob Burcham, a junior from Ona, W. Va.; who finished seventh at 1500 meters in the 2011 World Youth Championships in 3:46.55, the fastest time by a U.S. prep last year; Brannon Kidder, a senior from Lancaster, Ohio, a four-time state track champion ranked #4 in the U.S. at 1600 meters who is headed to Penn State University; Craig Nowak, a senior from Cypress, Tex., who is a five-time 5A state champion, ranks #2 at 1600 meters and #3 at 3200 meters, and will attend Oklahoma State University; and Craig Engels, a senior from Pfafftown, N.C., ranked in the top 10 at the mile (#3), 1500 meters (#4), and 3200 meters (#10). Engels was the 2012 Penn Relays Mile Champion in front of Burcham, the runner-up, and Malone, who placed third. He will attend North Carolina State University.

Joining Wilson and Efraimson in the Girls’ Dream Mile will be Haley Pierce, a senior from Wilmington, Del., the 15-time State Champion ranked #3 at 3200 meters and #4 at 1600 meters who will attend Georgetown University; Angel Piccirillo, a senior from Homer Center, Penn., who is a two-time state Gatorade Cross-Country Athlete of the Year, a seven-time State Champion, ranks #2 in the mile and will attend Villanova University; Amy-Eloise Neale, a junior from Snohomish, Wash., six-time Washington 3A State Champion ranked #4 in the mile and #6 at 1500 meters; and Paige Rice, a sophomore from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Ore., the 6A Oregon Cross Country State Champion ranked #4 in the U.S. at 1500 meters.

Burcham, Wilson, Pierce, Piccirillo and Neale are all making return Dream Mile appearances.

Joining the field of the adidas Boys’ Dream 100 are Raymond Bozmans of Fort Collins, Colo., a senior ranked #3 in the U.S. at 100 meters and #5 at 200 meters who is the 2012 Arcadia Invite Champion and will attend Texas Christian University on a football scholarship; and Khalfani Muhammad of Sherman Oaks, Calif., a junior who is the 2012 Mt. SAC champion at both 100 and 200 meters and 2011 state runner-up in both distances.

Added to the adidas Girls’ Dream 100 are Kali Davis-White of Lauderdale Lake, Fla., a junior ranked #4 in the U.S. and 2012 Florida State 4A runner-up at both 100 and 200 meters to the previously announced Shayla Sanders; and Destinee Gause of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a senior who is the 2012 National Indoor Champion at 200 meters and is ranked #5 at 100 meters. The 2011 Ohio State Champion at 100 and 200 meters, she will attend the University of Florida.

Fields for the Dream Mile and Dream 100 are being drawn from the winners of three qualifying meets in the adidas Golden Stripes series, as well as from at-large bids. The first meet, the adidas Meet of Champions, was held on March 24, followed by the Kansas Relays in Lawrence, Kan., April 19-21. Next up is the Golden South Classic in Orlando, Fla., on May 26. In addition to the opportunity to compete in a world-class international track event, athletes in the Dream Mile and Dream 100 will also have the chance to receive coaching from mile legend Jim Ryun.

All of the latest news, photos and additional information on the event can be found at adidasgrandprix.com, the event’s pages on Facebook at facebook.com/adidasGrandPrix and on Twitter at twitter.com/adidasGrandPrix. When tweeting, use #agpny. For even more coverage on the Dream Mile and Dream 100, visit adidasgoldenstripes.com.


Sara Hunninghake, Global Athletics & Marketing

Big marks for Chapus, Fahy, Graham

April, 30, 2012
Two big California invitational meets for open, college and Olympic-level athletes provided the venue for a trio of US#1 and all-time list-making performances this past weekend in the distances.

At the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.) senior Cami Chapus competed in the second-fastest of six 1,500-meter sections and while she finished 11th, she clocked a US#1 4:19.54. The race was won by Lauren Johnson of Nike in 4:11.22. Chapus’ time is second only to her PR 4:17.12 that she ran last year in also leading the nation, and making her #6 in prep history in the event, at the World Youth Champs. She also was US#1 last spring in the mile and is expected to try and defend her title at the adidas Dream Mile in June.

Also at the Payton Jordan meet, Cary Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) senior Thomas Graham ran a major 5,000 on the track for the second time this year and improved his US#1 mark slightly to 14:11.23. He placed ninth in the third-fastest section of the event, won by Colorado’s Christian Thompson in 13:59.23. Graham remains #16 on the all-time list with that performance.

Down south at the UCSD Triton Invitational, La Costa Canyon (Escondido, Calif.) senior Darren Fahy made his 3k ST debut in alarmingly good fashion, running a US#1 9:03.15 that rocketed him up to #7 on the all-time list. Fahy is also currently US#3 and #6 in the 1,600 (4:08.15) and 3,200 (8:54.51) and was unbeaten last fall in cross-country until the Foot Locker Finals. Graham’s big senior year has also included a ninth-place finish at Foot Locker Finals.

Washington delivers for Poly in 4x100

April, 28, 2012
Ariana Washington Penn RelaysJohn Nepolitan/ESPNHSAriana Washington reacts to her come-from-behind victory on the anchor leg of the 4x100 relay in the Championship of America race at Penn Relays.

PHILADELPHIA – There isn’t another high school in the U.S. that travels 2,400 miles for a “home” meet, but then again, there isn’t another Long Beach Poly.

At the Penn Relays, Poly doesn’t just represent a school on the Pacific Coast. It stands up for the entire country, plays the role of America’s last best hope against the otherworldly fast Jamaicans.

For the second year in a row, the Long Beach Poly girls rose up and beat the best of Jamaica in the 4x100 relay, this time coming from behind on sophomore Ariana Washington’s stirring anchor leg.

“I did what I was trained to do,” said Washington, who took the baton in third or fourth and then flew beneath a roaring wall of noise down the home straightaway to victory in 46.35. “I’m trained to get the baton and go and that’s what I did. I had no thoughts. I knew there was a lot of pressure and I couldn’t let my team down.”

It takes a meet with the enduring stature of Penn Relays to provide the intersection for Long Beach Poly and the Jamaican teams like Vere Tech, which has won here 15 times, or St. Jago, which has won four, or Holmwood Tech (3) or Edwin Allen (2).

Incidentally, Kingston is closer to Philadelphia than Long Beach – by about 900 miles. In a meet that loves to bill its “USA vs. The World” program, it often starts informally with the Jamaicans vs. Poly and the appreciative crowd has come to expect great moments to arise from the competition.

“The feeling you get when people respect you like that, it’s awesome. You can’t put it into words,” said longtime coach Don Norford, architect of the Long Beach Poly dynasty.

Carrying the burden of trying to defend the title, with three newcomers to the lineup, Poly ran the fastest time in qualifying on Thursday. And then in the final, the quartet quickly fell behind on the lead-off. There was a risk of getting buried at that point.

“I was really scared,” said Traci Hicks, making her third appearance in the 4x100 championship. “Diamond (Thomas) and I had a bad hand-off (between legs 2 and 3). I was really worried. But when Ariana got, I felt confident. She doesn’t like to lose.”

Washington erased any mistakes with a scorching anchor.

“It was probably the fastest 100 of my whole life,” she said.

Washington was an alternate for Poly last year. Next year, she will try to help her school win it again. The anticipation of 2013 began before Friday’s celebration died down.

“Just like this year, next year’s team is already ready,” Norford said. “It’s the way we coach them. We know what to do here, what to tell them, and what not to tell them, so they’re physically and spiritually prepared.”

Cheserek too much for CBA

In the highly anticipated distance medley showdown between St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) and Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.), there was a changing of the guard.

CBA , the reigning champ, built a 10-second gap on St. Benedict’s entering the 1,600-meter anchor legs. But senior George Kelly played the first lap too conservatively and Edward Cheserek caught up with a fast 57.

Then Cheserek settled on Kelly’s shoulder for two laps and patiently waited for the 300-to-go mark, where he flew into the lead and began to sprint for home. Kelly had saved something, but not enough to respond to the Foot Locker champion and 4:02 miler.

Cheserek split 4:06.2 to Kelly’s 4:17.6.

“I was thinking stay with the leader all the way,” he said. “I wanted to take off with 300 meter to go.”

Cheserek anticipated that he might need to make up as much as eight seconds after he got the stick.

“When the announced said (my first lap was) 57, I knew that’s too fast for me,” he said. “I slowed down.”

St. Benedict’s plan was to keep CBA within eyesight on the first three legs.

Penn Relays boys mile 2012
John Nepolitan/ESPNHSCraig Engels (lef) and Jacob Burcham battle over the final 100 meters of the mile at Penn Relays. Engels rallied to win by .07 seconds.
CBA’s Tim Gorman gained a three-second lead on Darien Edwards (3:06.2 to 3:09.2), the 400s were essentially a tie (48.7 for StB, 49.0 for CBA), and CBA padded seven more seconds onto the lead with Clark Mangini’s 1:56.2 for the 800 leg.

Against Cheserek, 10 seconds wasn’t enough cushion.

In the boys mile, Jacob Burcham of Cabell Midland (Ona, W.V.) appeared to be coasting toward victory with 400 meters to go but his 15-meter lead wasn’t safe. Craig Engels of Ronald Reagan (Pfafftown, N.C.) closed the gap on Burcham and then pulled out a narrow victory in 4:09.42 to 4:09.49.

Both Burcham and Engels had participated in their schools’ 4x800 relays eight hours earlier.

To kill some of the time, Engels went to a hotel near Franklin Field that he wasn’t staying at and took a nap in its lobby.

Not only did Engels take down the pre-race favorite, he also outkicked most of the kickers in a race that included 800-meter standouts Ben Malone of Pascack Valley (N.J.), Drew Magaha of Upper Moreland (Pa.) and Zevon Watkins of Liverpool (N.Y.), plus Ahmed Bile of Annandale (Va).

“With 400 to go I was working on cutting down (Burcham’s) lead,” Engels said. “I knew I had some speed and I tried to give everything I had in the last 100. It’s the biggest deal race I’ve ever won. Those guys are better than me. I just got lucky. Burcham would probably win any other day.”

In the 3,000 meters, Thomas Madden of Skyline (Front Royal, Va.) demonstrated his fitness with a fine time of 8:25.54, winning by almost five seconds. In a race supposedly lacking a big-gun talent, 12 runners broke 8:40. Madden, a junior, was 18th in last year’s race.

In the girls 4x800, Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) fell off the hot pace of Edwin Allen (Clarendon, Jamaica) and was seven seconds back half way through.

Edwin Allen cruised to the title in 8:52.97, anchored by Marleena Eubanks’ 2:09.3. F-M, which won the DMR last year, was second in 9:04.22, roughly the same time it ran in qualifying. Holmwood Tech of Jamaica was eight seconds further back, taking third.

F-M anchor Katie Brislin split 2:12.7.

“I was looking up and looking at (Eubanks) trying to catch up the best I could,” Brislin said. “We wanted to go faster than we did in qualifiers, but we did the best we could.”

Heather Martin led off in 2:18.5, Katie Sischo ran 2:15.8 and Jillian Fanning ran 2:17.2.

“Last year our relay won the DMR and if we’d done that we could have been one of the top contenders,” Brislin said. “We wanted to challenge ourselves in the 4x8 and even though we didn’t win it was a good experience.”

Jamaican schools went 1-2-3 in the girls 4x400 relay, led by winner Edwin Allen (3:42.06). Junipero Serra (Calif.) was fourth in 3:46.43 and Wakefield (N.C.) finished fifth in 3:51.88.

US#1 for Mattis in discus

Breezy conditions may have had something to do with slowing runners down a bit, but it didn’t seem to have an adverse effect at the throwing venue near Franklin Field.

Sam Mattis of East Brunswick (N.J.) hurled a PR 211-11 for his first Penn Relays crown and a new US#1 for 2012.

“I don’t think the wind really helped anyone today,” he said. “It wasn’t particularly wind on that (big) throw.”

Mattis had finished second in the discus in 2010 and 2011.

“Winning here is incredible,” he said. “I don’t know how to describe it.”

Billy Stanley of South Park, Pa. unleashed a meet record throw of 223-3 to win the javelin competition by 22 feet. (The meet record was for the “new” javelin implement that went into use in 2002). It was also a huge personal best for Stanley, who threw 208-8 as a sophomore.

Braheme Days of Bridgetown (N.J.) won the shot put with a mark of 68-8.50, building on what was already a five-year win streak for New Jersey in the event (including the last four by Nick Vena).

Record setters Tatnall, Cain share limelight

April, 27, 2012
Mary Cain Mile Penn 2012John Nepolitan/ESPNHSMary Cain raises her arms to celebrate victory in the girls mile on Thursday at the Penn Relays.

PHILADELPHIA – Haley Pierce and Mary Cain continued to cement their status as legends at the historic Penn Relays on Thursday at Franklin Field.

During an electric evening of racing for some of the country’s premier girls distance runners, Pierce and her Tatnall School (Wilmington, Del.) teammates smashed the Penn Relays record in the distance medley relay by more than five seconds, clocking 11 minutes, 28.86. That’s No. 3 all-time, trailing only the times Harvard-Westake (Calif.) and Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) posted at last year’s New Balance Nationals.

Pierce, who anchored the victory with a 4:42.8 split, had made the difficult decision to push her chips in with her teammates rather than try to duplicate her stunning 3,000-meter victory over Aisling Cuffe last year.

She had no regrets.

“It was kind of a hard choice at first,” Pierce said. “I thought I could really go after the 3,000, but the more I thought about it, the relay had such strong competition this year and we had three or four girls in position to run that (and win). It wasn’t that hard to decide once I thought about it. I’m really happy.”

North Shore (N.Y.) threw down the gantlet early, with Brianna Nerud gapping the field quickly and turning a scintillating opening leg of 3:26.7 for the 1,200 – and Penn Relays record split. Only four women in the college DMR championship race ran faster than Nerud did on the lead-off leg.

Tatnall Penn Relays
John Nepolitan/ESPNHSTatnall teammates Haley Pierce, Reagan Anderson, Julie Williams and Lindsey Voltz hold prized Penn Relays trophy after winning the DMR.
When she handed off the baton, Nerud had her team up by nine seconds.

But Tatnall’s Reagan Anderson ran a solid 3:35.7, and then Lindsey Voltz made up four seconds with a 57.8 split on the 400. Then, on the 800-meter leg, Julie Williams stalked North Shore’s Elizabeth Caldwell and ran 2:12.5, a whopping five seconds faster than her PR.

Williams put the baton in Pierce’s hand a half step behind North Shore’s Samantha Nadel. It was a perfect spot to be. North Shore’s lead and confidence were evaporated. Pierce remained tucked comfortably behind Nadel for a lap and then couldn’t resist going around her and pulling away.

“It was a perfect setup,” Pierce said. “At first I wanted to stay relaxed and just kick (at the end), but I felt good and I didn’t want to regret staying behind just because.”

North Shore finished second in 10:39.29.

A kick to ‘mess with’

As Tatnall celebrated its victory, Cain, the sensational sophomore from Bronxville, N.Y. dropped a devastating last-lap 62.5 to tear away from all contenders in a loaded girls mile. She finished in 4:39.28, breaking the meet record and moving to No. 7 on the all-time list. It is the fastest full mile ever for a sophomore, although Jordan Hasay ran a 1,600 that converts to 4:39.13 in 2007.

Cain bolted off the starting line and led the first lap but then two-time defending champ Angel Piccirillo of Homer Center (Homer City, Pa.) refused to yield and surged to the lead.

“Angel was amazing,” Cain said. “She was an angel to me. I wanted to go out and lead it, but she was going with me that whole time. She took the lead on the second lap and had it in the third. But with 600 (left) I was like ‘No, I want this so bad.’”

Cain ramped up her speed and sailed away from Piccirillo and everyone else.

“I got a kick to mess with,” Cain said. “That last 400, (I thought) just kill it.”

Piccirillo was second in 4:47.49 – running faster than she did in her wins in 2010 and 2011. Samantha George of Millbrook (Raleigh, N.C.) was third in 4:48.11 and Ajee Wilson of Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) was fourth in 4:52.89.

Lake Braddock 1-3 in 3K

Right after Cain’s heroics, Sophie Chase of Lake Braddock (Burke, Pa.) ran a lifetime best 9:37.86 to win the 3,000 meters. And perhaps more surprising was that her sophomore teammate, Hannah Christen, was right behind her, finishing third in 9:42.97.

It was a seven-second PR for Chase, a junior, and a breakthrough 17-second PR for Christen.

“I’m so proud of her,” Chase said of Christen. “It was great experience for us to be able to do it together.”

Tori Gerlach of Pennridge (Perkasie, Pa.) nosed ahead of Christen for second, with 9:42.92.

LB Poly, Wakefield vs. Jamaicans

The bulk of the day’s action on the track was devoted to 4x100s and 4x400s, events that Jamaican schools have used to stamp their collective identity on the Penn Relays.

But a couple of U.S. sprints powers also were formidable during Thursday’s qualifying action. Long Beach Poly, the 2011 Penn champion, turned the fastest 4x100 relay of the day, clocking 46.39 seconds. Edwin Allen (Jamaica) ran 46.45 and Wakefield (N.C.) was third-fastest with 47.17.

Of the eight teams qualifying for the championship final, five hail from Jamaica, three from the U.S.
In the 4x400, Wakefield got a 54.7 anchor split from Ariah Graham and put together a US#6 time of 3:46.64. That was the second-fastest time of the day, trailing Jamaica power Holmwood Tech’s 3:45.58. The championship final will feature four U.S. teams and four Jamaican teams.

The split of the day belonged to Shaunae Miller of St. Augustine’s (Bahamas), who ran a blistering second leg of 51.7 for her team.

In the 4x800 relay, Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) clocked a US#1 9:04.21 to set up a championship showdown with Jamaica’s Edwin Allen, which led qualifying by winning its heat in 8:58.51.

In the 400-meter hurdles, Alexis Franklin of Old Mill (Millersville, Md.) won the first high school championship of the day by running US#1 59.05 seconds.

In the field events, there seemed to be a Pennsylvania vs. Jamaica theme. The home state collected three victories and Jamaicans four.

Rachel Fatherly of Williamsport, Pa. won the shot put with 47-5, Christine Streisel of Tamaqua, Pa. won the javelin with 154-11 and Larisa Debich of Hempfield Area, Pa. won the pole vault by clearing 12-5.50.

Meanwhile, Chanice Porter of Manchester won the long jump at 19-5.50, Shardia Lawrence of Vere Tech won the triple jump with 40-8.25, Danniel Thomas of Edwin Allen led a 1-5 Jamaican sweep in the discus with 167-4 and Kimberly Williamson of Edwin Allen leapt 6-0 to win the high jump.

Top 10 storylines for the 118th Penn Relays

April, 25, 2012
Penn girls mileJohn Nepolitan/ESPNHSThe intensity should be sky-high when two-time Penn girls' mile champ Angel Piccirillo tries to defend against superstars Ajee' Wilson and Mary Cain.


Everything about the Penn Relays is huge – from the crowd, the numbers of athletes, to the tradition. The 118th Penn Relays features 33 hours of competition and an average of one race every five minutes.

Here is a closer look at 10 of the top high school storylines this week at the University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field.

  1. The Boys Distance Medley Relay: This has the makings of a classic, with two sensational New Jersey teams going at it. Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.), the consummate team (2011 NXN champion), led by senior George Kelly, is trying to become the first U.S. repeat champion since Bishop Loughlin’s four-year run from 1949-52. Meanwhile, St. Benedict’s has Foot Locker champion Edward Cheserek on the anchor leg, a prospect that throws CBA’s title defense into serious doubt. St. Benedict’s won the New Balance National Indoor title, with Cheserek going 4:07.4 on the anchor. A third New Jersey team, Piscataway, could be a factor with Tim Ball on the anchor leg.
  2. The Girls Mile: On the face of it, Olympic Trials hopefuls Ajee Wilson of Nepture, N.J. and Mary Cain of Bronxvile, N.Y., are the headliners. They faced one another in the 800 meters at New Balance Nationals Indoor, with Wilson taking the title. Wilson ran 2:05.28 for 800 meters last week at Princeton. Cain is the sophomore class record holder in the indoor 1,500 and is coming in off a 2:05.90 800 meters at the New York Relays. But the homestate girl, Angel Piccirillo of Homer Center, cannot be overlooked. She is a two-time defending champion in this event and will do all she can to defend her turf. This fast lineup also includes Kelsey Margey of Friends Academy (N.Y.), a future teammate of Piccirillo’s.
  3. The Boys Mile: This one could be a blockbuster, too. Cabell Midland (Ona, W.V.) standout Jacob Burcham is the top returnee after placing third last year as a sophomore. But this race could have everything to do with closing speed, and Ben Malone of Pascack Valley (Hillsdale, N.J.) and Drew Magaha of Upper Moreland (Willow Grove, Pa.) have shown raw speed. Malone ran 1:49.94 to win the NB Nationals Indoor title. Magaha is the hottest runner in the country right now, coming in off a 1:48.82 last week. How sweet would a win at Penn be for him? Magaha is a University of Pennsylvania recruit and Franklin Field is about to become home. Also, Millrose and U.S. Open champ Zavon Watkins (Liverpool, N.Y.) could be in the mix when the big push begins.
  4. Boys 4x800 relay: Can Chariho (Wood River Junction, R.I.) or Boys and Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.) win another big championship? One of the biggest surprises of New Balance Nationals Indoor was Chariho, which won the 4xMile. B&G, meanwhile, won the 4x800 national indoor title. Challenges will come from Cabell Midland (W.V.), Pennridge (Perkasie, Pa.) and Jamaica’s Holmwood Tech.
  5. Girls Distance Medley Relay: Two of the top distance programs in the U.S. go head-to-head with lineups chocked full of Division I talent. The Tatnall School (Wilmington, Del.) boasts Haley Pierce, the reigning Penn Relays 3,000 champ, and talented junior Reagan Anderson. North Shore counters with the one-two punch of Samantha Nadel, coming back from an injury, and Brianna Nerud.
  6. Girls 4x100 relay: Defending champion Long Beach Poly (Calif.) is the only U.S. school to break the Jamaican hold on this event going back to 1982. Poly also won in 1995 and 2003. If there is another U.S. contender, it may be Wakefield (N.C.), which has senior anchor Ariah Graham and owns the US#1 4x200 (1:35.98).
  7. Girls 4x800 relay: The reigning DMR champions, Fayetteville-Manlius is pushing its chips into the event it won at New Balance Nationals Indoor. The quartet of Katie Sischo, Jillian Fanning, Heather Martin, and Katie Breslin ran 8:58.18 at the Armory in March.
  8. The 4x400s: There are hour upon hour of 4x4s, a spectacle unto itself. The girls from Vere Tech in Jamaica have won the event 10 times but could be pressed by U.S. teams from Wakefield, N.C. and Long Beach Poly (Calif). The boys event could be dominated by Jamaica yet again. Munro College has run 3:12.32 this season already. Calabar won the Jamaican championships with 3:10.19. Boys and Girls (N.Y.) and St. Peter’s (N.J.), featuring Najee Glass, are the top U.S. contenders.
  9. Boys 3,000: This event doesn’t have a lot of marquee names, but there is an opportunity here for someone to seize a big moment. Adam Visokay of Albemarle, Va. has run 9:00.06 indoors for two miles and will face competition from Connor Rog (Ct.), Sam Parsons (Del.), Tom Awad (N.Y.) and Eric Holt (N.Y.).
  10. Boys Shot Put: For four years in a row, Nick Vena won the boys shot put for New Jersey’s Morristown High School. This year, Vena will vie for his first college title at Penn (against the likes of Ryan Crouser), opening the door to a new high school champ. Braheme Days of Bridgetown, N.J. threw 70-8 indoors, won the national indoor title, and looks like the heir apparent to the Penn title.

Penn entries released, mile fields competitive

April, 10, 2012
Angel PiccirilloJohn Nepolitan/ESPNHSAngel Piccirillo of Homer Center (Pa.) celebrates her victory in the mile at the Penn Relays last year. She is back to defend her title but faces competition from Ajee Wilson (N.J.) and Mary Cain (N.Y.).
The Penn Relays has released its high school entry lists for this month's meet in Philadelphia (April 26-28), and the girls mile field is shaping up as a good one.

Joining defending champion Angel Piccirillo of Homer Center (Pa.) are the top two finishers from the New Balance Nationals Indoor 800: Ajee Wilson of Neptune (N.J.) and Mary Cain of Bronxville (N.Y.).

The boys mile field also is a good one, with Jacob Burcham of Cabell Midland (W.V.) going up against Craig Engels of Ronald Reagan (N.C.), Ben Malone of Pascack Valley (N.J.), Zavon Watkins of Liverpool (N.Y.) and Ahmed Bile of Annandale (Va.).

A total of 1,047 schools have entries for this year's meet, including 985 from the U.S. The remaining 62 schools come from a variety of locales but it is the strong Jamaican contingent that has made a major impact in recent years at Penn Relays.

HSB Mile Run

ID Athlete School
1 Jacob Burcham Cabell Midland (WV)
2 Craig Engels Ronald Reagan (NC)
3 Ben Malone Pascack Valley (NJ)
4 Sean McGorty Chantilly (VA)
5 Zavon Watkins Liverpool (NY)
6 Ahmed Bile Annandale (VA)
7 Christian Delago Shaker (NY)
8 Everett Price New Providence (NJ)
9 Jack Huemmler Strath Haven (PA)
10 Logan Miller Chantilly (VA)
11 Adam McIe Brewster (NY)
12 Brendan Robertson Westborough (MA)
13 Michael McNamee Oakton (VA)
14 Steven Flynn Edison (NJ)
15 Drew Magaha Upper Moreland (PA)
16 Brent Coulter Landstown (VA)

HSB 3000m

ID Athlete School
1 Adam Visokay Albemarle (VA)
2 Orane Wint Bellefield (JAM)
3 Sam Parsons Tatnall (DE)
4 Thomas Awad Chaminade (NY)
5 Eric Holt Carmel (NY)
6 Kris Moran North Babylon (NY)
7 Connor Rog Fairfield Prep (CT)
8 Kevin Bishop Monta Vista (CA)
9 Matthew Schwartzer Princess Anne (VA)
10 Marc Violone Byram Hills (NY)
11 Mitchell Kun Sheepshead Bay (NY)
12 Dustin Wilson Chestnut Hill (PA)
13 Matthew Nelson Barnegat (NJ)
14 Nick Tuck Lake Braddock (VA)
15 Harry Warnick Fairfield Warde (CT)
16 Austin Lane Greenwich Central (NY)
17 Thomas Madden Skyline (VA)
18 Jonathon Harper Phillipsburg (NJ)
19 Paul Gates W.T. Woodson (VA)
20 Mike Libruk Shaker (NY)
21 Ronnie Calkins Douglas Freeman (VA)
22 Christian Costello Don Bosco Prep (NJ)
23 Sam Hibbs Hatboro-Horsham (PA)
24 Michael Wegner Loyola Blakefield (MD)
25 Billy Bragg Christian Brothers (NJ) (NJ)

HSB 400m Hurdles

ID Athlete School
1 Javarn Gallimore Jamaica College (JAM)
2 Tsegofatso Mathopa Uitsig (RSA)
3 Eric Futch Penn Wood (PA)
4 Ronald Levy St. Elizabeth Technical (JAM)
5 Jermaine Collier Trenton Central (NJ)
6 Brandon Benjamin St. Augustine (TRI)
7 George Flaviano Digital Harbor (MD)
8 Divontte Dennis Kingston College (JAM)
9 Kyle Robinson Jamaica College (JAM)
10 Kadesh Roberts Bay Shore (NY)
11 Jeremiah Obeng-Agyapong DeWitt Clinton (NY)
12 Orwell Maylor Wolmer's Boys (JAM)
13 Jermaine Smith Queens College (BAH)
14 Brandon Gregory North’n Valley Old Tappan (NJ)
15 Fabian McCausland Kingston College (JAM)
16 Brandon Hill Trenton Central (NJ)
17 Dondre Echols Potomac (MD)
18 Edward Wagner Xavier (NY)
19 Stefan Fennell Kingston College (JAM)
20 Evan Johnson Ewing (NJ)
21 Max Hairston Wissahickon (PA)
22 Aaron Willett Coatesville (PA)
23 Todd Townsend West Catholic (PA)
24 Chris Guerrero Governor Livingston (NJ)
25 Dario Scantlebury Queen’s College (BAR)
26 Andre Hewitt Transit Tech (NY)
27 Marcus Williams Delsea Regional (NJ)

HSB High Jump

ID Athlete School
1 Christoff Bryan Wolmer's Boys (JAM)
2 Rashaan Jones South Lakes (VA)
3 Damar Robinson Calabar (JAM)
4 Ashani Wright Jamaica College (JAM)
5 David Hall Kingston College (JAM)
6 Nick Simmons J.R. Tucker (VA)
7 Errin Baynes Wheeling Park (WV)
8 Xaiver Mc Allister Newburgh Free (NY)
9 Jason Lewis Wolmer's Boys (JAM)
10 Ibn Short Milton Hershey (PA)
11 Robert Cardina Conestoga Valley (PA)
12 Hakiem Horton Trenton Central (NJ)
13 Kenyon Wright St. Benedict's Prep (NJ)
14 Xavier McIntosh Columbia (NJ)
15 derek dawson, Jr. Ridley (PA)
16 AJ Vance Egg Harbor Township (NJ)
17 Brandon Roberts Nansemond River (VA)
18 James Overby Phoebus (VA)
19 Brian Russell St. Joseph by the Sea (NY)
20 Dashawn Putman St. Peter's Prep (NJ)
21 Isaac Williams Willingboro (NJ)
22 Jalen Ramsey Norristown (PA)
23 Antwan Dickerson Pennsauken (NJ)
24 Mark Jackson Longwood (NY)
25 Andrew Brandt Marple Newtown (PA)
26 Jordan Carr Howard (MD)
27 Julian Coiner Linganore (MD)

HSB Pole Vault

ID Athlete School
1 Patrick Anderson Kane (PA)
2 Ryan Steinbugl Altoona Area (PA)
3 Chris Williams Strath Haven (PA)
4 Greg Gallagher Iona Prep (NY)
5 Tim Murphy New Fairfield (CT)
6 Austin Vegas East Forsyth (NC)
7 Jared Allison Dallastown (PA)
8 Michael Brunoforte St. Anthony's (NY)
9 Michael Jensen Appoquinimink (DE)
10 Alexandru Barker Conrad Weiser (PA)
11 Craig Hunter Robbinsville (NJ)
12 Xavier Boland Kingston College (JAM)
13 Dylan Parmly Fluvanna County (VA )
14 Mike Cyphers Lebanon (NH)
15 Brandon teribery Bradford (PA)
16 Corey Smith Central Bucks West (PA)
17 Sean Daugherty Lake Braddock (VA)
18 Eric Geider Northern Valley Regional (NJ)
19 Robert Mercer Crossland (MD)
20 Skylar Johnson Point Pleasant (NJ)
21 Logan Besougloff Langley (VA)
22 Austin Miller Herndon (VA)
23 Matt Urbano Iona Prep (NY)

HSB Long Jump

ID Athlete School
1 Clive Pullen Kingston College (JAM)
2 Tatenda Tsumba Eaglesvale (ZIM)
3 Keneil Grant Kingston College (JAM)
4 Alec Peabody Abington Friends (PA)
5 Cody Minnig Neshaminy (PA)
6 Anthony Averett Woodbury (NJ)
7 Gavin Gibson Jamaica College (JAM)
8 Tyrek Edwards Archbishop Ryan (PA)
9 Adoree Jackson Junipero Serra (CA)
10 Nicholas Phynn Jamaica College (JAM)
11 Christopher Crawford Western Branch (VA)
12 Jamal Williams Teaneck (NJ)
13 Richard Gatewood Roman Catholic (PA)
14 Adam Cummings Wolmer's Boys (JAM)
15 Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye Munro College (JAM)
16 Derrick Ingram Uniondale (NY)
17 Ian Miles Mount St. Joseph (MD)
18 Michael Francis, Jr Digital Harbor (MD)
19 Chris Armour Uniondale (NY)
20 Liam Vogt St. Joseph by the Sea (NY)
21 Charlie Kerr Lawrenceville School (NJ)
22 Khiry Twyman Girard College (PA)
23 Jabari Gray Queen’s College (BAR)

HSB Triple Jump

ID Athlete School
1 Dume Dube Christian Brothers (ZIM)
2 Tawanda Washaya St. Johns (ZIM)
3 Imani Brown Reading (PA)
4 Fitzroy Dunkley Jamaica College (JAM)
5 Thomas Johnson White Plains (NY)
6 Jarred Posey William Penn (PA)
7 Wellington Zaza Strath Haven (PA)
8 Carlington Benjamin Kingston College (JAM)
9 George Freiberger Westchester CDS (NC)
10 John Landis Father Judge (PA)
11 Anaquan Peterson Lakeland (VA)
12 Justin LIttle Westfield (VA)
13 Owen Smith Calabar (JAM)
14 Raphael Jordan Queen’s College (BAR)
15 Chris Rogers Manchester (VA)
16 Cody Israel Chaminade (NY)
17 Aaron Worrell Woodside (VA)
18 Ryan North Southern Regional (NJ)
19 Demetrius Hazly-Ward Westlake (MD)
20 Mark Cohen Cardinal Hayes (NY)
21 Racheed Davis Ocean Lakes (VA)
22 Jonathan Pitt South Brunswick (NJ)

HSB Shot Put

ID Athlete School
1 Braheme Days Jr. Bridgeton (NJ)
2 Ashinia Miller Calabar (JAM)
3 Christopher Staton Franklin Township (NJ)
4 Kyle Felpel Cocalico (PA)
5 Emmanuel Onyia Munro College (JAM)
6 Praduman Singh Upper Darby (PA)
7 Dontaye Rivera Pleasantville (NJ)
8 Kofi Yamoah Egg Harbor Township (NJ)
9 Chadrick Dacosta Kingston College (JAM)
10 Tevin Kirby Hatboro-Horsham (PA)
11 Mark Ramsey John F. Kennedy (NJ)
12 Will Pope Iona Prep (NY)
13 John Lowery Boonsboro (MD)
14 Travis Gallardo Bayonne (NJ)
15 Ian McGinnis Father Judge (PA)
16 Chris Cook Lawrenceville School (NJ)
17 Shaquelle Lewis Jamaica College (JAM)
18 Curtis Fitzpatrick Egg Harbor Township (NJ)
19 Matt Koh River Dell Regional (NJ)
20 Nadim Elhage Winston Churchill (MD)

HSB Discus Throw

ID Athlete School
1 Sam Mattis East Brunswick (NJ)
2 Kyle Long Hempfield (PA)
3 Fedrick Dacres Calabar (JAM)
4 Rudy Winkler Averill Park (NY)
5 Dominik Kosar St. Joseph Collegiate (NY)
6 Chaz Wilks Cardinal O'Hara (PA)
7 A.J.Wolf Hackley School (NY)
8 Ryan Hart Downingtown East (PA)
9 Jevaughn Shaw Munro College (JAM)
10 James Plummer Egg Harbor Township (NJ)
11 Bryan Pearson Bangor (PA)
12 Julian Pinnix-Odrick Montclair (NJ)
13 Josh Awotunde Delsea Regional (NJ)
14 Sam Cherney Ithaca (NY)
15 Noah White Jericho (NY)
16 Andrew Trumbetti Northern Valley Regional (NJ)
17 Cole Stout Atlee (VA)
18 Evan Arnott Schuylkill Valley (PA)
19 Jong Min Youn North’n Valley Old Tappan (NJ)
20 Andrew Romeo Bangor (PA)

HSB Javelin Throw

ID Athlete School
1 Billy Stanley South Park (PA)
2 Michael S. Shuey Johnsonburg (PA)
3 Stephen Burk Parsippany (NJ)
4 David Reinhardt Bradford (PA)
5 Jonathan Strauss Lehighton Area (PA)
6 Rajae Gayle Munro College (JAM)
7 Blake Rankin Bloomsburg (PA)
8 Chris Mirabelli Holy Cross (NJ)
9 Bobby Smutsky Northern (PA)
10 Perry Hopkins Unionville (PA)
11 Cole Proffitt Manheim Central (PA)
12 Anthony Seidel Hasbrouck Heights (NJ)
13 Rolando Reid Munro College (JAM)
14 Tommy Myers Coventry (CT)
15 Brandon McCleese Cherokee (NJ)
16 Madison Miller Wilson (PA)
17 Harry Sullivan Ramapo (NJ)
18 Chris Connors Hasbrouck Heights (NJ)
19 Andrew Scanlan Spring-Ford (PA)
20 Curtis Thompson Florence Township (NJ)
21 John Olson Upper Perkiomen (PA)

HSG Mile Run

ID Athlete School
1 Angel Piccirillo Homer Center (PA)
2 Mary Cain Bronxville (NY)
3 Alexis Panisse Benjamin Cardozo (NY)
4 Ajee' Wilson Neptune (NJ)
5 Kelsey Margey Friends Academy (NY)
6 Katie Fortner Cave Spring (VA)
7 Carolyn Bethel Hidden Valley (VA)
8 Maria Seykora Notre Dame Academy (PA)
9 Samantha George Millbrook (NC)
10 Kennedy Weisner Elk County (PA)
11 Kimberley Ficenec Mountain View (VA)
12 Audrey Batzel Ocean Lakes (VA)
13 Jackie Choucair Hockaday School (TX)
14 Sarah Gillespie Northwest Catholic (CT)
15 Caroline Alcorta West Springfield (VA)
16 Sara Sargent Pennsbury (PA)
17 Cayla Del Piano South Brunswick (NJ)

HSG 3000m

ID Athlete School
1 Sophie Chase Lake Braddock (VA)
2 Megan Lacy Cherokee (NJ)
3 Hannah Christen Lake Braddock (VA)
4 Colette Richter Mountain Lakes (NJ)
5 Jaimie Phelan St. Mary’s (ONT)
6 Caroline Kellner W.W. Plainsboro South (NJ)
7 Amanda Rickert Wilmington Charter (DE)
8 Meghan McGovern North Penn (PA)
9 Tori Gerlach Pennridge (PA)
10 Dina Iacone Washington Township (NJ)
11 Margaret Drazba St. Marys (WV)
12 Gianna Frontera Newburgh Free (NY)
13 Caitlin Bungo Sewickley (PA)
14 Allie Klimkiewicz Oakton (VA)
15 Catherine Maloy Holy Names (NY)
16 Hannah Oneda Winters Mill (MD)
17 Elizabeth Caldwell North Shore (NY)
18 Jessica Donohue North Shore (NY)
19 Eliza Dekker Durham (NC)
20 Holly Biscof Bishop Eustace Prep (NJ)
21 Isabel Amend Washington-Lee (VA)
22 Amy Darlington Liberty (PA)
23 Kate Zendell Suffern (NY)
24 Katie Treichel Saratoga Springs (NY)
25 Nicole Park Ocean Lakes (VA)
26 Regan Rome Dallas (PA)

HSG 400m Hurdles

ID Athlete School
1 Adriana Brown St. Elizabeth Technical (JAM)
2 Alexis Franklin Old Mill (MD)
3 Autumn Franklin McDonogh School (MD)
4 Jessica Gelibert Bay Shore (NY)
5 Vamonie Boddie Phoebus (VA)
6 Kiah Seymour Archbishop John Carroll (DC)
7 Kernesha Spann St. Francois Girls (TRI)
8 Jennifer Esposito Mansfield (MA)
9 Racquel Moses Milford Mill (MD)
10 Tanaya Yarde Mount Vernon (NY)
11 Brittney Adams DeWitt Clinton (NY)
12 Christina Zelenoy Monroe-Woodbury (NY)
13 Gwen Shaw Wootton (MD)
14 Stey'ce McNeil Winslow (NJ)
15 Chistine London Howard (MD)
16 Taylor McDonald Nordonia (OH)
17 Alexis Murry Lackey (MD)
18 Ashley Woodards Delsea Regional (NJ)
19 Helena Leyrer Buena Regional (NJ)
19 Alvonna Blakney West Mecklenburg (NC)
21 Sylvia Deppen Wootton (MD)
22 Latazah Coleman Appoquinimink (DE)
23 Kayla Coley Cheltenham (PA)
24 Chantel Ray Hampton (VA)
25 Marilyn Allen W.W. Plainsboro North (NJ)
26 Heather Smith Great Bridge (VA)
27 Tichina Rhodes Swenson Arts & Tech (PA)

HSG High Jump

ID Athlete School
1 Kimberly Williamson Edwin Allen (JAM)
2 Shanice Hall Wolmer's Girls (JAM)
3 Maddie Morrow Hoover (OH)
4 Krista-Gay Taylor Alpha Academy (JAM)
5 Megan McCloskey Germantown Academy (PA)
6 Hannah Stone Catoctin (MD)
7 Brianna Hayes Matoaca (VA)
8 Kyaira Wright Harmon Franklin Township (NJ)
9 Noel Jancewicz Robbinsville (NJ)
10 Nakita Gray Friendly (MD)
11 Taylor Morgan Upper Dublin (PA)
12 Brionna Singleton Essex County VoTech (NJ)
13 Megan Kirschling West Deptford (NJ)
14 Hansen Sashane Herbert Morrison (JAM)
15 Emily Godwin Buckhannon-Upshur (WV)
16 Erika Hurd Manchester Valley (MD)
17 Kelly Clifford Douglas MacArthur (NY)
18 Cyre Virgo Fleetwood (PA)
19 Christina Solomon Bishop McNamara (MD)
20 Elly Wardle Toms River South (NJ)

HSG Pole Vault

ID Athlete School
1 Larisa Debich Hempfield Area (PA)
2 Chelsea Vaughan Southern Regional (NJ)
3 Kristen Lee Wakefield (NC)
4 Hannah Meador Fluvanna County (VA )
5 Emma King Oakdale (MD)
6 Virginia LaMacchia Central Columbia (PA)
7 Kara Snyder Colonie Central (NY)
8 Felecia Majors South County (VA)
9 Malena Sabatino Hillsborough (NJ)
10 Amanda Benninghoff Council Rock South (PA)
11 Emily Shipley Hillsborough (NJ)
12 Maddesen Weekes Shenendehowa (NY)
13 Kennedy Shank Northern (PA)
14 Rayna Yvars Green Hope (NC)
15 Grace Giampietro Villa Maria Academy (PA)
16 Lauren O'Connell Newtown (CT)
17 Lexi Masterson Hempfield Area (PA)
18 Maggie Rampolla Maryvale Prep (MD)
19 Olivia Loy Cedar Cliff (PA)
20 Lexie Schachne Staples (CT)
21 Erin Knabe Voorhees (NJ)

HSG Long Jump

ID Athlete School
1 Sha'Keela Saunders Nansemond River (VA)
2 Chanice Porter Manchester (JAM)
3 Danielle Gibson St. Augustine’s (BAH)
4 Dennisha Frazier Dunbar (DC)
5 Alexis Faulknor Junipero Serra (CA)
6 Shamia Lassiter Western Branch (VA)
7 Traci Hicks Long Beach Poly (CA)
8 Keturah Orji Mount Olive (NJ)
9 Opal James St. Elizabeth Technical (JAM)
10 Jordan Matthews Abington (PA)
11 Octivia Booker Hodgson Vo-Tech (DE)
12 Janel Francis O’Connell Copiague (NY)
13 mobolaji Adeokun DuVal (MD)
14 Cidae'a Woods Winslow (NJ)
15 Jessicca Noble The Queen’s School (JAM)
16 Tatiana Wolfe Alpha Academy (JAM)
17 Ariana Washington Long Beach Poly (CA)
18 Danielle Hale South Lakes (VA)
19 Sara Ronde Northport (NY)
20 Amani Newsmith Swenson Arts & Tech (PA)
21 Kimberly Golding Alpha Academy (JAM)

HSG Triple Jump

ID Athlete School
1 Shardia Lawrence Vere Technical (JAM)
2 Bryanna Grant Cranford (NJ)
3 Melodee Riley Riverhead (NY)
4 Molly Shapiro Emma Willard (NY)
5 Carina Peter Herndon (VA)
6 Adefunke Sonaike Montgomery Township (NJ)
7 Antonique Butler St. Augustine’s (BAH)
8 Anna Williams Thomas Edison (VA)
9 Mollie Gribbin South Burlington (VT)
10 Jessica Caldwell McDonogh School (MD)
11 Tiffany Ellick Western Branch (VA)
12 Brielyn Rogers Bishop McNamara (MD)
13 Shenelle Mckay Alpha Academy (JAM)
14 Iana Amsterdam Essex County VoTech (NJ)
15 Diamond Hodge Girls' (PA)
16 Shaya Wilkerson Lenape (NJ)
17 Shedya Khodeai Hayfield (VA)
18 Paige Lumley Richland (PA)
19 Olivia Jebb Cornwall (NY)
20 Cidni Ford Wakefield (NC)
21 Sydney Hausman Brearley (NY)

HSG Shot Put

ID Athlete School
1 Theresa Picciallo Immaculate Heart (NJ)
2 Antonella Taylor Bowie (MD)
3 Alexus Scott Eleanor Roosevelt (MD)
4 Rachel Fatherly Williamsport (PA)
5 Chioma Onyekwere Robinson (VA)
6 Adaora Nwodili Longwood (NY)
7 Briyah Brown New Rochelle (NY)
8 Andrea McKenna St. John Vianney (NJ)
9 Isabella Stuopis Souhegan (NH)
10 Urina Harrell Junipero Serra (CA)
11 Alexis Kennedy Millville (NJ)
12 Julie Kerber Lakewood (NJ)
13 Lisbeth Lopez Randolph (NJ)
14 Carrie Wasdyke Jefferson Township (NJ)
15 Mariame Fadiga W.W. Plainsboro South (NJ)
16 Kadijah Doughty Cape Henlopen (DE)
17 Zakiya Rashid Nansemond River (VA)
18 Tara Belinsky Manhasset (NY)
19 Allison Wethey Bayard Rustin (PA)
20 Taylor Martin Hackensack (NJ)
21 Sarah Talmadge Mount St. Dominic (NJ)

HSG Discus Throw

ID Athlete School
1 Tara-Sue Barnett Edwin Allen (JAM)
2 Danniel Thomas Edwin Allen (JAM)
3 Sasha-Gaye Marston Edwin Allen (JAM)
4 Fayon Gonzales St. Jago (JAM)
5 Devene Brown St. Hugh's (JAM)
6 Jess Woodard Cherokee (NJ)
7 Gleneve grange Holmwood Tech (JAM)
8 Tamara Ovejera Gov. Johnson (MD)
9 Mackenzie Leigh Buckhannon-Upshur (WV)
10 Venique Harris St. Andrew Girls (JAM)
11 Ashli Weems Millville (NJ)
12 Ashleigh Stallings Maryvale Prep (MD)
13 Jordan Collins Bayport-Blue Point (NY)
14 Jennifer Slagus North Pocono (PA)
15 Kylie Siemanowicz Manchester Township (NJ)
16 Sarah Fairbanks Elizabethtown Area (PA)
17 Mary Newell Villa Joseph Marie (PA)
18 Taylor Hojnacki Central Bucks South (PA)
19 Carter Green North Schuylkill (PA)
20 Kimberly Alfaro Toms River South (NJ)

HSG Javelin Throw

ID Athlete School
1 Christine Streisel Tamaqua (PA)
2 Megan Glasmann Park City (UT)
3 Shaunteriah Douglas Garfield (NJ)
4 Olivia Hassler Parkland (PA)
5 Maria Jimmenez Vineland (NJ)
6 Kelsey Carlsen Northeast Bradford (PA)
7 Katie Johnston Haddonfield Memorial (NJ)
8 Sarah Firestone Mercersburg Academy (PA)
9 Chrissy Rickert Hempfield (PA)
10 Alejandra Willequer Cumberland Valley (PA)
11 Jeanne Berry Delsea Regional (NJ)
12 Ellie Gravitte Ridgefield (CT)
13 Kelsey Hay Palmerton (PA)
14 Valarie Orth Arthur P. Schalick (NJ)
15 Lisa Sesink-Clee Holy Angels (NJ)
16 Solveig Loeken Randolph (NJ)
17 Adriana Vukmanic Bishop McDevitt (PA)
18 Bridget Coffey North Penn (PA)
19 Kelly Yanucil Bordentown (NJ)
20 Jessica Helmstetter Raritan (NJ)

Devon Allen shines brightest at Arcadia

April, 8, 2012
Arcadia Allen Brophy John Nepolitan/ESPNHSDevon Allen stretches for the finish line at the end of the 200 meters on Saturday at the Arcadia Invitational.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The maximum number of events an athlete can enter at the Arcadia Invitational is four.

No one apparently told Devon Allen, because he won five times over two days at the country's biggest in-season high school track meet. And if he happened to step into a sixth or seventh event, he might have won those too.

The junior from Brophy Prep (Phoenix) was unstoppable over two days at Arcadia, earning four gold medals Saturday on top of the one he picked up Friday. Allen ran the second leg on Brophy Prep’s winning 4x100 relay team (41.15), swept the hurdles races (13.52 in the 110s, 36.39 in the 300s), and also beat an elite field in the 200 (21.10).

The hurdles performances were both Arizona all-time records. On Friday, Allen had anchored the shuttle hurdles relay – crashing on the final barrier and then getting back to his feet to complete his team’s win.

Allen was named the outstanding boys performer of the meet, although his victory in his fifth event (the 200) may be vacated from the meet records because of the four-event limit.

“I came here feeling pretty confident about the hurdles and I thought our 4-by-1 team could win if we had good hand-offs,” Allen said. “In the 200 I just wanted to run fast.”

He is the first male athlete to win three individual events at Arcadia since Xavier Carter (2003).

Records bonanza in 3,200

More history was made in the meet’s signature event, the boys 3,200, where 16 runners charged across the finish line in less than nine minutes and six state records were broken.

Over a dramatic final lap, unheralded Bernie Montoya kicked into high gear and rocketed past Futsum Zeinasellassie with about 280 to go.

The Nike Cross National champ was momentarily stunned to see Montoya cruise past him and gathered himself to make a final attempt at the win. Zeinasellassie caught Montoya with 80 meters left and pulled clear, taking the win in 8:47.75.

It turns out Zeinasellassie and Montoya connected at NXN in Portland. They met at breakfast and then warmed up and cooled down together after the cross country championship, which Zeinasellassie won (Montoya was 12th).

“I just got this adrenaline rush,” said Montoya, who PR’d by 34 seconds. “Me and Futsum are good friends. I was so excited to get past him and maybe win this, but he got me in the end.”

Said Zeinasellassie: “When he went by me I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Is that (Montoya) or somebody else?’ I couldn’t respond to that (surge). I had to hope he would die a little bit in the last 100.”

State records tumbled in Indiana (Zeinasellassie), Arizona (Montoya 8:48.25), North Dakota (Jake Leingang 8:51.23), Montana (Zach Perrin 8:55.24), Idaho (Dallin Farnsworth 8:55.28) and Delaware (Sam Parsons 9:00.61). Zeinasellassie took down a Rudy Chapa equivalent two-mile record from the mid-1970s to set a new mark in the Hoosier state.

Forty-six boys broke 9:20 in the invitational and seeded sections of the event, including sophomore Blake Haney of Stockdale, Calif., who was seventh in the invitational race in 8:54.65, and freshman Elijah Armstrong of Pocatello, Idaho, who was third in the seeded race in 9:04.78.

Baxter repeats as girls 3,200 champ

Simi Valley sophomore Sarah Baxter led wire-to-wire to defend her Arcadia title in the girls 3,200, pulling away from Marina’s Laura Hollander in the final 300 meters to win in 10:08.02. She earned the girls’ athlete of the meet award.

Baxter ran a 4:52 anchor leg for Simi Valley in a second-place finish in Friday’s 4x1600 relay.

On Saturday, Baxter, Hollander and North Central (Spokane, Wash.) junior Katie Knight pulled away from the field by the start of the third lap. Those three were together for laps 3-4-5-6 before Knight fell off the pace.

Hollander, from Huntington Beach, Calif., has shaved more than a minute off her PR in the past year.

In the girls mile, Amy-Eloise Neale of Glacier Peak (Snohomish, Wash.) won her second straight title by running 4:51.43. Neale went through the first 400 in 72 seconds and staked a 10-meter lead on the field. On the second and third laps, fellow Washingtonian Maddie Meyers, the 2010 champ, moved up to challenge Neale, but then fell back again. Less than an hour later, Neale returned to the track and ran the 800, kicking too late to challenge winner Savannah Camacho of Templeton (Calif.), who won in 2:07.61. Neale was second in 2:10.00.

Illinois duo Aaliyah Brown and Shamier Little dominated the girls individual sprints. Brown won the 100 easily (11.48) and outleaned Long Beach Poly’s Arianna Washington to win a close 200 (23.96 to 23.97).

“It feels really good to run some good times. I’ve been trying to bust a 23 for over two years now,” Brown said.

Little, of Lindblom (Chicago), won the 400 in 53.79 and was also fifth (100) and third (300) in the hurdles races.

While Long Beach Poly’s Traci Hicks sped off with the 100 hurdles title (13.63), the 300 hurdles came down to a dramatic finish. Jordie Munford of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. and Jaide Stepter of Canyon del Oro (Tucson, Ariz.) were running side by side approaching the final hurdle when both of them lost the rhythm of their steps.

Munford reached out her hands and pushed over the final barrier and still managed to break the tape in 41.93, ahead of Stepter, who stutter-stepped before clearing the final hurdle and crossing in 42.22. Munford was disqualified, moving Stepter to first place.

Raymond Bozmans from Fort Collins, Colo. backed up his stunning early season results with a blistering 10.41-second clocking in the 100 meters. Then he returned in the 200 and finished in a near-tie with Allen.

In the 400, Champ Page of Henry Wise (Md.) ran 47.31 to beat Arnold Carrillo of McQueen (Nev.), who finished in 47.43 and Rashard Clark of Dorsey (Calif.), who posted 47.54.

Canadian Tyler Smith kept finding extra gears on the final lap of the 800, pulling away and winning the title in 1:49.23. It’s his third big 800 win in the U.S., coming on the heels of indoor wins at the Simplot Games and Brooks PR Invite.

In the mile, Brad Nye from Davis (Kaysville, Utah) replayed his victory from New Balance Nationals Indoor, summoning a kick at 300 that drove him into the lead. He held off Marcus Dickson of White River (Buckley, Wash.) to win the race in 4:08.80. Dickson, who will be his teammate at BYU, was next in 4:09.41.

Cochran PRs in the discus

Ethan Cochran of Newport Harbor, Calif. improved to 209-8 to win the discus, a mark that ranks fifth in Arcadia Invitational history and ranks US#1 this season.

“It’s exciting,” Cochran said of the early season success. “I can’t wait until the end of the year to see how it all comes together.”

Cochran is specifically targeting 213-11, which is the California state record. He also won the shot put with a best of 62-10.

Klyvens Delaunay of Claremont (Calif.) swept the horizontal jumps with wind-legal marks of 23-11.50 and 49-4.25.

Peter Chapman of Murrieta Valley (Calif.) cleared 16-6.50 to win the pole vault.

Sophomore Gabrielle Williams from Reed (Nev.), the U.S. leader in the high jump, won the event with a clearance at 5-10. Another talented Nevada sophomore, Ashlie Blake of Liberty (Las Vegas) won the shot put (49-10.5) and discus (152-5).

Freshman Margaux Jones of Redlands (Calif.) jumped 19 feet even to win the long jump, while Rachel Toliver from St. Mary’s Academy (Calif.) soared 40-3.75 to win the triple jump.

McKenzie Johnson of Clairmont (Calif.) won the pole vault at 12-7.50.

Vista Murrieta boys win DMR

The quartet of Tyler Dain, Kevin Gonzalez, Omar Solis and Porter Reddish pieced together a US#1 time of 10:08.52 to win the distance medley relay, with Reddish outkicking Centennial (Nev.) star Nick Hartle to take the win. Centennial was next in US#2 10:08.96. Those were the sixth and seventh fastest performances in meet history.

The girls distance medley also held some drama, but for a different reason. Big favorite Harvard-Westlake got a gutsy 800-meter leg from Elle Wilson, but fumbled the baton on the exchange to anchor Cami Chapus.

Two teams went flying by but Chapus reached down to grab the baton and then tore after the leaders. She dueled for three laps with Redondo Union’s Lyndsey Mull but then put her away on the final lap, bringing it home in 11:45.18. Amy Weissenbach led off with a 3:30.66 split for the 1,200.

It was a rough day for the sprinters from Wakefield (N.C.). The national indoor champions dropped the baton on the final exchange in the girls 4x100 relay. Later, Olicia Sharp pulled up with an apparent injury in the invitational 200 meters. Wakefield then withdrew from the 4x400 relay.

California schools closed the meet with victories in the 4x400. Serra anchor Chimere Ezumah tracked down St. Mary’s from behind and pulled into the lead in the last 120 meters to bring home victory in 3:47.18.

“I didn’t know if I could get her but I was like ‘I think I got a little bit left. I think I can pull it off,’” Ezumah said.

Long Beach Poly’s boys pulled out the win in the 4x400 in 3:18.55.

Team is the thing on first night at Arcadia

April, 7, 2012
Arcadia 2012 LawsonJohn Nepolitan/ESPNHSGiven a big lead by her teammates, Kelly Lawson handles the anchor duty for La Costa Canyon (San Diego) in the 4x1600 relay on Friday at the Arcadia Invitational.

ARCADIA, Calif. – On a night that celebrated the overwhelming depth of talent of track programs in Southern California and several points beyond, capable teammates were as valuable as superstars at the Arcadia Invitational.

Athletes such as Tori Myers, Imani Cook-Gist, Kelly Lawson and the members of Loyola’s boys 4x1600 relay did things that spoke volumes about trusting one another, strength-in-numbers and good coaching.

Myers is a senior at Long Beach Poly, possibly America’s most prolific assembly line of top-flight high school sprinters and hurdlers. Within the span of an hour, she helped her team move to No. 2 all-time in the shuttle hurdle relay (58.11 seconds) and also led off a 2012 US#1 in the 800-meter sprint medley relay (1:44.37).

“I worked hard for four years and stayed committed to track,” Myers said.

She is a cog in the Long Beach Poly machine, but the work to move up the chain to the varsity group is paying off.

“I’m excited today,” she said. “I think it’s a really special year for everybody (in the program).”

Cook-Gist and fellow freshman Shea Copeland made favorable impressions on Harvard-Westlake stars Amy Weissenbach and Cami Chapus, teaming up with them to break the meet record in the 1,600-meter medley relay.

Cook-Gist arrived in Los Angeles earlier Friday morning after a long flight home from Tahiti, where she had spent Spring Break studying marine biology.

“We knew the atmosphere (at Arcadia) would bring it out of the freshmen,” said Chapus, who anchored the 800-meter leg in 2:09.9.

Watching Cook-Gist, and then Copeland, bring the baton around with 25.5 and 25.6 splits, was a welcome sight for the veterans.

“I was jumping around, it was so exciting,” said Weissenbach, who split 55.1 for 400.

In the girls 4x1600 meters, Lawson of La Costa Canyon (San Diego) had a 60-meter lead when she took the baton for the anchor leg but knew she needed every bit of that cushion to stay in front of Simi Valley sophomore Sarah Baxter and Campolindo senior Carrie Verdon, two of the nation’s best distance runners.

Lawson didn’t let her teammates down, turning a 4:57.7 leg and not yielding an inch on the final lap to Baxter, who trimmed 60 meters to 25 in the first three circuits.

“I was nervous but I’m really confident in my team,” Lawson said. “I had faith in them and they pulled through.”

La Costa Canyon arranged its lineup with the intent of being first, with as wide a margin as possible, in order to overcome Baxter, Verdon and the other anchors. Emma Abrahamson, the school’s top runner, went first.

But it was Lawson, out there by herself and knowing that she had a target on her back, who ran the fastest for the team, turning in a 4:57.7 carry. (Baxter closed for Simi Valley in 4:52.0).

“I need to have a lead,” Lawson said. “We were coming in here just to see how it goes. When I got the baton my mentality was, ‘We can do this.’”

La Costa Canyon finished in 20:23.88.

Loyola got four consistent efforts – ranging from 4:15 to 4:20 – to hold off its rivals and break the meet record in the 4x1600 relay, clocking 17:12.23. Right behind them, Trabuco Hills also went under the previous record with 17:12.60.

A year ago, Loyola leaned heavily on its big gun, Elias Gedyon, to win this race at Arcadia. This time, Loyola was stronger one-through-four and broke the school record by 12 seconds.

“We knew we had the talent,” Loyola’s Andrew Verdin said. “Last week we had four guys go sub-4:20.”

On Friday, they pieced it all together.

“We brought four to the table and all clicked at the same time. That’s why the record went down,” Charles Marquardt said.

The evening session began with US#1s in the boys and girls 4x800s.

Redondo Union’s girls ran 9:05.86 for the fifth-fastest performance in meet history. Lyndsey Mull anchored the win by running 2:15.8 and helped her team win by nearly seven seconds.

Centennial (Nevada) got the stick to anchor Nick Hartle about 20 meters behind Bishop O’Dowd but the UCLA-bound senior split 1:50.6 and moved to the lead with 300 meters left. Centennial finished in 7:44.00 – third-fastest in meet history.

“I felt I could catch him if I just stayed strong,” Hartle said. “(My teammates) ran great. They knew they had to run strong. I told them they were going to have to run fast, run PRs, and I’m pretty sure they did that.”

Wakefield (North Carolina) put on another dazzling display of team excellence. The New Balance Nationals Indoor champions began their outdoor campaign by winning the 4x200 title in 1:35.98. That’s second-fastest in meet history, trailing only the 2004 Long Beach Poly team.

Anchor Ariah Graham was one of the night’s brightest stars and she gladly explained the success as a team effort.

“One thing we bank on is our team,” she said. “Everything we do, from stretching, counting, running, warming up, it’s all team. There’s nothing individual there. We motivate each other and run.”
Tim McLooneSubmitted by Suzanne Gottuso/ESPNHSRumson-Fair Haven NJ coach Tim McLoone consulting with two of his athletes.
What do coaches Rob Hipwood of Los Alamos High in New Mexico, Corbin Talley of Davis High in Utah and David Christian of Broughton High in North Carolina have in common?

In addition to producing state championship teams that have also made their marks nationally, the three coaches were all Foot Locker cross country finalists in their high school days, as well as outstanding college runners. While it is
logical that top runners would fill the nation’s coaching ranks, it’s also the case that many of today’s leading high school coaches did not come from much of a running background. In fact, some never ran a step in their lives.

This seeming contradiction leads to the question of whether good coaching is based primarily on running knowledge and instincts, or whether a coach’s personality and ability to relate to the student-athletes can carry the day even if he or she lacks certain expertise at the outset.

Paul Limmer, the former Mepham High coach from Long Island who nurtured all-time greats like Mark Belger, Christine Curtin and top teams for 30 years, performed his own athletics on a baseball diamond. He knew next to nothing about running when he started coaching track and cross country in the 1969-70 season. He said, “I had to pick up bits and pieces from books, other coaches, trial and error, ‘ruining’ a lot of kids till I could develop a system that worked.”

It’s hard to imagine any coach, especially a dynamic force like Limmer “ruining” a youngster. Kids have a way of surviving even dumb workouts. But Limmer’s point is well-taken, and it underlies what a caring coach can do when he figures things out.

Coaching Neophyte Finds Potential Runners

Initially, Limmer — a long-time executive with the National Scholastic Sports Foundation that puts on events like this month’s New Balance Indoor Nationals — went with his strength, which is to say, his personality.

“I was an excellent recruiter,” he said. “I could recruit kids out of my class, in the cafeteria. I could make the sport sound very attractive to them.”

Limmer was the type of person that few people, young or old, can ever say no to. He could identify students who might thrive on hard work and the camaraderie of cross country.

“You pick those kids out sitting by themselves who could use a team to feel part of something,” Limmer said. “Very often those were the kids who grew to love running and become the backbone of my program.”

It was not long before Limmer’s program was humming. He developed the middle-distance star Belger, a 1:50 half-miler who led the nation in 1974, and after girls track was soon to be officially established via Title IX, Limmer had Curtin, the 1982 Foot Locker national champion.

New coaches without the confidence to rely on their own ideas tend to pick up on the latest trends. That’s what Limmer did when he started, citing the “mileage craze” of that early 70s period when 100-mile-a-week LSD seemed like the be-all and end-all.

March Peak Performance Submitted by Paul LimmerPaul Limmer (right) used the strength of his personality to build winning teams in at Mepham on Long Island, New York.

“We did it like everyone else,” he said, referring to his boys’ team. “But you had to have a lot of kids because you’d lose up to 40 percent to injury. Those standing at the end of 10 100-mile weeks were really good.”

When Tim McLoone started coaching at Rumson Fair Haven in New Jersey (along with a partner, Henry Mercer) seven years ago, he brought the same high-wired personality and entrepreneurial spirit as Limmer to give the program a lift.

Last fall, all the years of nurturing and attention to detail resulted in a crowning moment: the school’s first girls’ Meet of Champions cross-country title for what was aptly described as a Cinderella team.

McLoone, who had quite a reputation as a restauranteur, musician and humanitarian — his Holiday Express Christmas concerts are known to draw the likes of Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen — brought his Limmer-style salesmanship to the RFH program but also something Limmer did not have at the outset: a substantial running background. McLoone ran for Harvard. He raced against that Yale guy, Frank Shorter, in Ivy League competition.

College Mistakes Provide HS Lessons

Oddly enough, instead of some sweeping motivational concepts picked up from his prestigious running background, McLoone said that the most important thing he learned at Harvard that he could apply to his high school athletes was a college deficiency: poor tapering.

“Our coach,” said McLoone, “was big on training but not big on pre-meet psych-ups.”

McLoone said that an experience during the 1968 cross-country season has stayed with him. The NCAA meet was making its first appearance at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It poured so “hellaciously,” according to McLoone, that the site was not usable and the meet was postponed a week. McLoone’s Harvard team had already tapered for an entire week, and now they tapered for a second week.

“We felt out of it,” he said. Harvard placed ninth with only one runner in the top 50. After that, McLoone always felt, “if you over-taper, you are really rolling the dice.”

At RFH, said McLoone, the girls worked just as hard the week of the state meet as they had the entire season. He said the key to the team’s preparation was a Wednesday session of repeat 400 “dropdowns” on 60 seconds rest. They started at 90 seconds and worked down below 80. It was, in effect, the anti-taper.

During the workout, McLoone got a good indication about Saturday when girls standing next to him after their eighth repeat were fresh enough to hold a conversation. They would win the Meet of Champs by 16 points over two-time defender Hillsborough.

Elite Runners Pass on Proven Methods

Hipwood, Talley and Christian have brought considerable range and know-how to their programs, and each emphasized the role their own coaches played in providing a launching pad.

Hipwood probably had the best teacher of all, the master: Joe Vigil. After making the 1981 Foot Locker finals, placing 26th, Hipwood went on to run for Vigil at Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado. While winning the 1985 NAIA cross country title, and earning six All-American citations, he absorbed Vigil’s “amazing ability to connect with people.”

At Adams, Hipwood would meet his future wife, also an all-American, and together Rob and Kathy Hipwood have propelled Los Alamos to New Mexico state champion or contender year after year while also excelling at Nike Cross Nationals (NXN). The Hilltoppers’ boys were second (by two points) at NXN in 2007; the girls took sixth in 2004.

Hardly a day goes by when the Hipwoods don’t use an idea he picked up from Vigil, such as how to maintain a patient approach to excellence, especially for athletes hoping to run in college; and ways to inspire confidence in youngsters ready to move to a higher level.

Christian, 31, ran for another coaching legend, Tony Rowe, at Daviess County High in Kentucky. He was a two-time Foot Locker finalist, in 1996 and ’98, and went on to achieve ACC track and cross-country honors at North Carolina State under coach Rollie Geiger.

In his eighth year coaching boys at Broughton (and 3rd year with the girls), Christian relies on a particular approach to the state cross-country meet that was a hallmark of Rowe’s program. At Daviess, they called it “The Raging Red Line.”

At Broughton, Christian calls it, “Rowe Miles.”

On a Monday three weeks before state, the Broughton varsity does a hard two-mile followed by a hard mile; two weeks before, it’s 2 x 1 mile; and the week before it’s one mile all-out, a time trial in pursuit of PRs. The workouts are on grass or track. Since the athletes are in cross-country shape, not mile shape, Broughton’s boys pack looks for low-4:30s times while the girls aim for sub-5:30.

Talley and Nye
John Dye/ESPNHSDavis UT coach Corbin Talley (left) and his star miler Brad Nye celebrate Nye's victory at NBN Indoors.
Christian said the three-week preparation is excellent for state, offering the athletes tangible evidence of their readiness. “They can say, ‘I PR'd in the mile, I must be really fit.’” he said.

“Super-Intensity” Produces National Stars

That same mindset of going hard — “pushing past pain” — is what Talley brought to Davis from his high school experience at Bingham High in Utah under coach Jeff Arbogast, a much sought-after clinician whose 1999 girls team was ranked No. 1 in the Harrier Super-25.

“When we went hard, we were super-intense,” said Talley, 34, in his ninth year at Davis.

That intensity enabled Talley to place 12th in the 1994 Foot Locker nationals.

In college, at Weber State, he competed in the NCAA championships as a steeplechaser. Currently, Talley’s Davis athletes are national headliners. The boys’ cross-country team made the 2011 NXN podium with a third-place finish, and just last Sunday, the Darts’ star, Brad Nye, won a sensational indoor nationals mile in New York over Edward Cheserek.

One of Arbogast’s staple workouts, repeat 800s, has become a Davis staple.

“The last one or two intervals,” said Talley, referring to intensity, “everyone’s going for it.”

But not all high school running successes can be traced to a trickle-down effect from illustrious coaches. Many good ideas are picked up from the youngsters themselves.

“I think the best way to learn is to be around kids,” Talley said. "I'm learning from my athletes all the time.”
Dior HallJohn Dye/ESPNHSDior Hall crosses the line seemingly calm and composed after her stunning upset of Trinity Wilson in the 60H.

NBNI Index

NEW YORK – Dior Hall had run a slew of fast times and even won some big races. But during Sunday’s finals in the 60-meter hurdles, the sophomore from Denver, Colo. took it to the next level.

Hall blitzed U.S. Junior and World Youth champ Trinity Wilson and the rest of the New Balance Nationals Indoor field, running 8.19 seconds for No. 2 all-time and another new sophomore class record. It was arguably the most impressive performance of the final session of the three-day affair at The Armory.

Three weekends earlier, in Pocatello, Idaho, Dior ran 8.30 in the prelims of the Simplot Games and then hit the last hurdle the next day as Wilson sped off with the victory and a then-US#1 8.23. Then, on Feb. 26 in Seattle, Wash., Hall lowered her time to 8.28 and bettered Wilson’s class record and won the race. But Wilson was elsewhere.

It all came together in New York. First she ran 8.25, fastest overall in the semifinal round. In the final, Hall got a huge advantage on Wilson at the start and the Californian – who last lost to a prep in 2010 – could never catch up. After the championship race, Hall found her mom – Yolanda Johnson, a former all-time hurdling great – and shared an emotional moment with her.

“I was excited,” Hall said. “I was crying with my mom. I feel like I’m on the right track and (now) it’s on to the outdoor season.”

Before the curtain closed on the indoor season, many of the country’s top athletes took a final stab at leaving their mark on it before moving on to outdoors.

In the boys 400, the highly anticipated showdown with trio Aldrich Bailey (Texas), Najee Glass (N.J.) and Arman Hall (Fla.) lost some of its sizzle when Hall didn’t run fast enough in the prelims to make the fastest section of the finals. So the big show turned into a rematch of the Brooks PR meet – with a nearly identical result.

Bailey got into the lead by the end of the stagger, but Glass was right behind him. Bailey left a seam open on the inside and Glass pressed through it to take the lead. Bailey went wide on the final straightaway to try and win – and was a little short. It was Glass clocking 46.57 and Bailey right there in 46.59.

“I forced myself in,” Glass said. “It was not a big gap. I had to be aggressive.”

Bailey certainly wasn’t expecting the pass on the inside and wasn’t even sure it was legal. “When Najee passed on the inside, I was like ‘What’s going on?’” he said. “I lost my form when he did that.”

Bailey recovered in time to win the 200 meters in a meet record 21.07 seconds, but it didn’t quite make up for the second straight loss to Glass (the difference in Seattle was .01 seconds).

For Edward Cheserek, the final day of NBNI provided an opportunity to pursue individual titles after anchoring two relays wins for St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.).

It started with the two-mile, but Cheserek ran even splits on the way to 8:50.53 – a great time by anyone else’s standards, but seven seconds slower than he’d already run in this winter.

It was about 75 minutes that Cheserek took to the track again for the mile, but the race did not turn into the four-event coronation that he may have imagined. At the front, Jacob Burcham (Ona, W.V.) went after Cheserek, trying to surge his way to the lead. Each time, Cheserek responded and rebuffed him.

Laying in the weeds, right behind them, Brad Nye of Kaysville, Utah was watching and waiting. “With 400 to go, I was still in the race,” he said. “I said ‘I’m right here. This is perfect.’”

Nye moved off the final curve, ran past Burcham and Cheserek and took it through the tape in 4:08.67. The Foot Locker champ and 5,000-meter U.S. record-holder was next in 4:09.07 and Burcham was third in 4:10.82. Nye also had a performance at Simplot that set the stage for nationals, except in his case it was a 1,600 victory so dominant – an easy-looking 4:12.39 at high altitude – that many believed he could improve significantly.

Nye was almost stunned by his achievement and quick to be humble. He had watched each of Cheserek’s previous three races and noticed that he was being pushed – or pushing himself – in all of them.

“Wow, he is such a stud,” Nye said. “His whole attitude, his ability, I have nothing but respect for the guy. It was a great opportunity to run with him.”

Two of the other big matchups came in the 800-meter races.

Ben Malone of Pascack Valley, N.J. kicked late and ran a junior class national record and No. 2 all-time 1:49.94 to beat a field that included Zavon Watkins (N.Y.) and Ned Willig (Pa.), who were second and third, respectively. It concluded an amazing undercover campaign for Malone, who is also US#1 at 1,000 meters and has shown great range from 600 to cross-country.

Ajee Wilson and Mary Cain had a rare chance to go head-to-head, and get to know one another. The senior from Neptune, N.J. and the sophomore from Bronxville, N.Y. don’t live far apart, but they really didn’t know each other. Cain approached Wilson in the bathroom and asked if she’d like to warm-up together.

“She’s run 2:02 (for 800), so I just wanted to go out and do my best,” Cain said. “I tried to go after her that last 150. Why not? But that last 100 it was hard to find that other gear.”

Wilson had her eye on Cain all along and was wary of getting into a kicking contest with her. “I wasn’t asleep on (Cain),” she said. “I knew I needed to save something for the last 150.”

Leading off the field events, it was hard to top Avana Story of Woodward Academy (Georgia), already the national leader in the girls weight throw. She hit a two-foot personal best 63-1.5 to move to No. 2 all-time behind her former Throw1Deep Club teammate Shelby Ashe.

“After my third throw of 60 (feet), it was time to go all-out,” Story said. “I’ve been waiting for that 19 meters to come up all season.”

Ashe, who took the year off from entering college in order to train for the Olympics, continues to work out with Story and her teammates. “She’s like my big sister,” Story said of Ashe. “She told me I could do it.”

In the boys weight throw, Rudy Winkler of Averill Park, N.Y. had the four longest throws of the competition – all of them over 24 meters (78-8) – and hit the first 80-foot throw of the year for the winner, 80-11.75 (#8 all-time).

Carla Forbes of Newtonville, Mass. won a horizontal jump title for the third year in a row. The junior won the triple in 2010 and the long jump last year. On Saturday, she was fifth in the long jump with a respectable 19-7.

In the triple jump, Forbes improved to 42-5.25 for a 19-inch season’s best. It was good for No. 10 all-time. “I was kind of angry,” she said of her morning after the long jump. “I said ‘You know what, I’m going to win something this weekend.’ I had to focus on a new day.”

Ariah Graham of Wakefield, N.C. went 3-for-3 in her events. She anchored Wakefield (N.C.) to victories in the 4x200 and 4x400, and also won the individual title in the 400 with 53.95, fourth-fastest in the nation this season.

Wakefield’s 4x200 relay turned in a meet record 1:36.35, also #2 all-time. The 4x400 ran a US#1 3:43.01, good for #8 all-time.

Robert Rhodes anchored the boys of Boys and Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.) to a relay win for the second straight day. After an emotionally draining 4x800 win on Saturday, Rhodes recovered in time to help his team take the 4x400 decisively, in 3:16.78.
Erin FinnJohn Dye/ESPNHSErin Finn moves out to a huge lead against the great national class 5k field -- which she would never relinquish.

NBNI Index

NEW YORK – Erin Finn decided that she’d had enough of driving to the lead in big races and then getting passed at the end. That happened to her in the Foot Locker XC Finals this past December and it happened again at the Brooks PR Invitational two weeks ago.

It didn’t happen on Friday.

Instead , the junior from West Bloomfield, Mich. charged to the front and kept on charging. She buried the field on the way to smashing the U.S. high school indoor 5,000 record by more than 15 seconds – crossing the finish line in 16:19.69 to win her first national championship at New Balance Nationals Indoor at The Armory. The previous record was set in this meet just last year: 16:35.15 by Waverly Neer.

“I told myself this is my chance,” Finn said. “I’ve come in second and third too many times. This is my race, my night, and everything worked out so well. God blessed me tonight, I’m so happy.”

Haley Pierce, of the Tatnall School (Wilmington, Del.) – who was second at NXN and second ahead of Finn in the Brooks PR two-mile – figured there was a chance that she could stick with her evenly paced plan and catch back up to Finn. She briefly edged closer in the middle of the race, but Finn’s pressure was too relentless.

Finn opened with 2:31 for 800 meters and went through 1,600 in 5:07. She then hit a succession of laps mostly in the 39s, with just one over 40.

“I was a little disappointed that I was slowing down,” Finn said. “I think my ego got the best of me. I knew if I went out and held on as long as I could I’d (get the record).”

Pierce also had reason to think she could break through with her biggest win since last year’s 3,000 at the Penn Relays.

“I was pretty confident,” Pierce said. “I know she goes out hard, but sometimes you can pull her back in, you know? I was just trying to stay relaxed in my head. I was trying for the national record and I could win if I got the record, but (Finn) ran an amazing race so I can’t feel too bad.”

Grosse Pointe South
John Nepolitan/ESPNHSKelsie Schwartz hands to Hannah Meier during Grosse Pointe South's winning DMR.
Pierce also ran under Neer’s 2011 standard, running 16:31.86. Brianna Nerud from North Shore (Glen’s Head, N.Y.) was third in 16:43.56 and 2011 New Balance Outdoor 5,000 champ Wesley Frazier of Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) was fourth.

Finn wasn’t the only success story from Michigan on Friday.

The girls distance medley relay squad from Grosse Pointe South (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.), featuring junior twins Hannah and Haley Meier, chased Mountain View of Utah’s 8-year-old national record (11:35.43) and came up just four seconds short.

GPS turned in the No. 4 time in history, clocking 11:39.29 and winning by nine seconds. And it could return intact next year to make another attempt. In addition to the Meier sisters, the quartet included sophomore Kelsie Schwartz (800 meters) and freshman Ursula Farrow (400).

Hannah Meier took the final baton pass needing to run about 4:42 to get her team the record. And the mixture of adrenaline and nerves drove her to a 65-second first 400.

“There was a lot of nerves,” she said. “I felt different than I usually do before races. I just got out there pretty fast and went for it.”

Meier, who won the mile at the Brooks PR Invite two weeks ago, split 4:47.3.

The third final for girls on Friday was the high jump, and Kell, Ga. junior Kendell Williams lived up to her No. 1 ranking in the event. Williams needed a third attempt to make 5-9.25 but then cleared 5-11.25 on her first try.

Williams, who will begin the indoor pentathlon Saturday and also has the 60-meter hurdles on her plate, was able to overcome nagging discomfort in order to focus on her event and win the high jump title. She spent at least 20 minutes trying not to think about her full bladder.

“I’ve never had to high jump when I had to go to the bathroom like that,” Williams said. “I’m just glad I could still jump. I just tried not to think about it, to look at something else.”

Kendell Williams
John Dye/ESPNHSKendell Williams approaches the bar en route to HJ victory.
After outlasting 2011 runner-up Maddie Morrow of Hoover (North Canton, Ohio) and Dakota Dailey-Harris of LaSalle Academy (Providence, R.I.), Williams was given permission to leave the competition for a few minutes to address her emergency and then returned to take three attempts at 6-0.5.

In the boys DMR, the irrepressible Edward Cheserek made his first appearance in the meet a memorable one. He anchored St. Benedict’s of Newark, N.J. to the championship in 10:10.08.

Cheserek took the stick in sixth place but burned through a 54-second 400 to catch everyone in front of him and move up to the lead. From that point he ran only as hard as he needed to in order to stay in front of Piscataway’s Tim Ball.

Ball made Cheserek work for it, but the Foot Locker champ and 5,000-meter record holder had enough in the tank to bring his team the victory. He has three more events on his weekend to-do list: The sprint medley relay on Saturday and the two-mile and mile on Sunday.

The meet concluded Friday with a stirring finish in the boys 5,000. Foot Locker finalists Daniel Lennon of Peru, N.Y. and Dallin Farnsworth of Pocatello, Idaho traded the lead and neither one of them could shake the other. For 25 laps they went, not separated by more than a stride.

Lennon sped to the lead with 220 meters left and tried to put the race away but Farnsworth responded. Coming around the final curve Farnsworth slide wide and tried to make one final pass but he ran out of room and lost by less than a foot. It was Lennon in 14:37.25 and Farnsworth, the Simplot Games two-mile champion, in 14:37.32.

Lennon was gracious, calling it a “co-championship” because the race was so close.

“I got to the last 100 and started to see his shadow and thought, ‘I’ve got to go,’” said Lennon, who summoned everything he had to get to the finish line first. “I had no idea (who won). In all honesty, I thought he was going to get me. I consider it a co-championship. He closed on me faster than I closed on him and it was both of us together the whole race.”
5kJohn Dye/ESPNHSWesley Frazier (1), Haley Pierce (2) and Erin Finn (3) finished first, seventh, and second in this NBON 5k race

NBNI Index

Three of the country’s top female distance runners are part of Friday’s New Balance Nationals Indoor 5,000 meters field and even if they aren’t peaking for this event, a race featuring senior Haley Pierce and juniors Erin Finn and Wesley Frazier promises to be a good show.

At the Brooks PR Invitational on Feb. 26 in Seattle, that trio went 2-3-4 behind Foot Locker champion Molly Seidel in a loaded two-mile. Their shared history, however, goes back to last June, when all three were a huge part of a dramatic outdoor national 5k.

But first, this winter: Pierce, a Georgetown signee from The Tatnall School (Wilmington, Del.), will seek her first national title to conclude a productive indoor season that included a US#7 4:48.59 mile victory at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, a US#2 9:40.46 in the Yale Classic, and a US#2 10:14.54 in the two-mile. That followed her runner-up finish at NXN Finals in December, leading her team to third place.

“This winter we’ve been fortunate with the weather,” Pierce said. “We’ve been building up base, doing a lot of strength work.”

With her focus on the upcoming outdoor season, Pierce can afford to come to New York and take a low-pressure approach to the meet. She is also in Saturday’s 4x1 mile relay with her Tatnall teammates and will no doubt want to run well for her team, which has a chance to break the national record.

Finn, the 2011 Foot Locker runner-up and hard-charging junior from West Bloomfield (West Bloomfield, Mich.), is also focused on getting ready for a big outdoor season. After extending her cross country season into January so she could run the Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge in Scotland, Finn took some time off before ramping up her miles.

“Only recently have I added some fartleks and tempo runs,” Finn explained. “Indoor track isn’t really big in Michigan, so I am racing indoors to test where my body is on only a little training. I had a high mileage week last week, so I am just trying to make sure I am rested for the (NBNI) 5K. I am excited though! Hopefully I can go out and make it a gutsy race.”

Finn’s penchant for taking the lead has made her a marked target in national races (more on that in a moment), but her willingness to push the pace has helped produce fast times.

Frazier, meanwhile, said the weekend schedule dictated that she enter the 5,000 even though she’d probably have rather entered the mile or two-mile.

“It’s strictly a matter of timing for me this year,” said the junior from Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.). “I have a lot of school stuff due on Monday and the rest of the week is loaded, so I need to get back (home) and Sunday running in New York was just not an option.”

That said, the 2011 New Balance Nationals Outdoor 5,000 champion will do her best to mix it up.

“I would like to run on pace and maintain my form with no breakdown,” Frazier said. “And then a win would be a nice bonus.”

So three girls with a lot of talent and nothing to lose will gain more elite race experience in a field that also includes North Shore (Glen’s Head, N.Y.) standout Brianna Nerud (who was 5th in the Brooks 2M), Bishop Eustace (Pennsauken, N.J.) senior Holly Bischof and senior Alexis Panisse of Benjamin Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.), among others.

Long time since last June

It seems so long ago that Frazier, Finn and Pierce took the starting line at the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor championship on June 18 in Greensboro, N.C.

The meet was a coming-out party for Frazier, who made the short drive from her home and ran an impressive triple in a warm, muggy conditions over three days. She surged away from Finn to win the 5,000 Thursday in a national sophomore class record of 16:24.83 (No. 8 all-time), placed third in the two-mile on Friday, then won the mile in stunning fashion on Saturday.

Finn led much of that race, but in a moment of lost concentration stepped on the rail and nearly fell. She still managed to finish second with PR and would set another best the next day in the deuce.

Pierce – considered the pre-race favorite for the 5k after a spring where she won the Penn Relays 3k – faded badly that night, running more than three minutes for her final two laps and finishing seventh.

Since that meet, fortunes changed. In the fall, Pierce and Finn were fixtures in the national rankings.

Pierce entered the cross country season gradually, coming off an injury. She won Great American and then found herself locked in an in-state rivalry with Julie Macedo. The two of them ran so fiercely at the New Castle County Championships on Nov. 5 that they ran each other into the ground. Pierce ultimately recovered and led Tatnall to the medal stand at NXN, with only Sarah Baxter finishing ahead of her.

Finn ran 17:16 and 17:22 three days apart in mid-September and moved to US#1. Her Michigan and Midwest dominance seemed to slip at bit with a narrow state meet win and a distant third at Foot Locker Midwest. But Finn pressed the pace impressively at the Foot Locker Finals in San Diego, storming to a big lead before Seidel ultimately reeled her in and won.

Finn also led in the race at Scotland and again at the Brooks PR Invite two-mile, and she didn’t win those races either. Still, Foot Locker (and the Brooks race) represented career-best efforts to date.

“I guess that my racing style has always been pretty aggressive,” Finn said. “It’s probably not the smartest racing tactic. I am going to start to play around with other things. Nevertheless, I like to keep an honest pace and make sure that a two-mile race is really two miles – not a one and half mile jog with an 800 sprint.”

Frazier entered cross country season with great expectations that were probably misplaced. The two-time Foot Locker finalist didn’t run with the Ravenscroft team, preferring to stay focused on track workouts.

“For me, cross country is much more team-oriented and not being on a team makes it a little more difficult for me to get immersed in the season,” she said. “Second, I’m very interested becoming a better track runner and most of my training, even during (cross country) season, is oriented to things that, hopefully, will make me better on the track, especially the shorter distances – 800, mile, two-mile.”

Frazier did run at the Foot Locker South regional, but didn’t have a good day, finishing 39th. She had made the previous two Foot Locker Finals. She has run well this winter, though, and at Brooks ran within four seconds of her winning time at the 2011 edition of the race.

Of her 10:21.07 in Seattle, Frazier said she was “80 percent satisfied, 20 percent disgusted,” but considered it a learning experience.

For all three, the race is a test but not the final destination. They are all looking forward to what lies beyond.
Haley PierceJohn Nepolitan/ESPNHSHaley Pierce wins the New Balance Boston Indoor Grand Prix girls junior mile.

NG Indoor GP Meet Index

Although they were competing in races that unfolded quite differently, Haley Pierce and Craig Engels both used strong final kicks to collect junior mile victories at Saturday’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.

For Pierce – the highly decorated Tatnall (Wilmington, Del.) senior who won the Penn Relays 3k last spring and the Great American XC Festival last fall – it was a matter of waiting patiently and hopefully in front of a strung-out group of followers until mid-race leader Cayla Hatton finally faded and she could pass her with 200 meters remaining to win with a US#2 4:48.59. On the other hand, Engels – a late-blooming, fast rising senior from Ronald Reagan (Pfafftown, N.C.) – was part of a big lead pack that produced 3-4 lead changes before his own decisive move with 300 left resulted in a US#3 4:13.70 triumph.

The miles highlighted five events that included preps during the otherwise professional USATF affair before a packed house. Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) senior 800 megastar Ajee Wilson battled the pros for the second straight week in her specialty and while she placed 6th out of six runners, she improved her US#1 to 2:07.37, just over a second off her indoor PR that also led the nation last winter.

Then the meet featured two prep relays that were packaged as regional battles between New York and New England, with five schools from each area invited to compete as a team and be scored – cross-country style – against the other. The girls 4x400 saw the Villabears TC (St. John Villa, Staten Island, N.Y.) roll to a 3:57.88 win, but the two regions of squads fight to an 18-18 tie (four squads scored). The boys 4x800, however, saw New York not only feature the winning quartet of Firebird TC (Kellenberg, Uniondale, N.Y.) in 7:55.67, but pull away to the overall team win.

Girls Mile: Pierce’s Patience

It looked like there would be at least four serious contenders for the girls title and, for quite a while, those named contenders – Pierce, Cosby (Midlothian, Va.) senior Megan Moye, Friends Academy (Locust Valley, N.Y.) senior Kelsey Margey and Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) junior Wesley Frazier – pushed lap after lap in single file. However, another girl who few knew about coming in – the aforementioned Hatton – was 30-40 meters ahead of them, first pushing, then hanging on.

That scenario evolved because no one wanted to really take charge during a very pedestrian first lap (38+ seconds) and Hatton, a Phillips Academy Andover (Andover, Mass) senior, decided she wanted none of that. “I was really surprised it went out that slow,” she said. “I wanted to get out of the pack and run my race.”

Hatton, whose her 1500 PR is 4:38, shot out from the group over the next circuit, hitting just over 34 seconds for a 72 first quarter split. She gained three seconds on Pierce and the rest and there was no turning back after that. “I probably overcompensated a little bit,” she admitted.

The move was dramatic enough and, not knowing Hatton, the other contenders settled for a steady push that would maintain a reasonable distance and inch back toward the surprise leader. “I knew we started out slow and needed to pick it up,” said Pierce. “I thought she would come back and I was able to stay confident.”

Hatton passed halfway at 2:23, with an even faster 400, and slowing a tad through three-quarters at 3:37. It still wasn’t clear she was catchable, but finally with 300 to go she really started having to go to her arms and her form began to tighten. Pierce picked up momentum and – having pulled away somewhat from Moye, Margey and Frazier – passed Hatton just before the bell. Her last 200 meters was 33.35. Hatton would have enough left to hold on to second in 4:51.37, while Frazier’s trademark kick (33.14) enabled her to snare Moye and Margey before the tape for 3rd in 4:52.18.

It was a fine win for Pierce, even if not quite the resounding stunner her Penn Relays 3k triumph was last April. But what his concerning the Georgetown signee the most is getting and staying healthy for national championships and other big races ahead. “The last few weeks have been the best I’ve felt since this started,” Pierce said, referring to a nagging foot injury she’s been battling since last summer. “The doctor I have now has really helped.” She had taken a couple of weeks off after leading Tatnall to 3rd at NXN in December with her individual runner-up finish (“more of a mental break than anything”), but was still was experiencing some pain until taking a new direction.

Pierce seems at least as interested in helping her squad to relay victories as any individual glory. “We really want it now,” she said with determination upon being reminded of last spring at NBON, when her struggles helped prevent Tatnall from going after a title in the 4x1 Mile. If she stays healthy, an opportunity for such a feat is just five weeks away at NBIN.

Craig EnglesJohn Nepolitan/ESPNHSCraig Engles wins the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix junior boys mile.

Boys Mile: Engels Arrives

Among a field of milers light on championship or major invitational experience, it took someone zeroed in on and confident in a winning strategy. In the junior boys mile Saturday, Craig Engels was that guy.

Though the pace was reasonable enough – 65-2:09 for the first half - the field was toiling along, rudderless, until the sixth lap. Then 2011 junior mile runner-up Chaminade (Mineola, N.Y.) senior Thomas Awad – the only runner in the field who had really raced at this level before – made his bid. “I wanted to make one big move,” he would say afterward. “It worked at Stanner.”

Indeed, Awad had run 4:15.67 at Stanner, which was the best coming in of the field. The contenders and pretenders began to separate, with Piscataway (Piscataway, N.J.) senior Tim Ball, Cary Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) senior Thomas Graham, and Engels giving serious chase. Marshfield (Marshfield, Mass.) senior Joel Hubbard, with a recent 4:13 DMR 1600 leg to his name and who fronted the field early with Ball, faded back.

Awad kept pushing and towed the chase trio past the three-quarter mark in 3:12. But halfway through the penultimate lap, Engels struck. The other contenders lifted and began to sprint, too, but no one could match Engels’ 29.99 7th lap. Awad didn’t have another gear and neither did the others as the Ronald Reagan senior maintained on the last circuit. The one who was able to do something was Hubbard, who was able to dig down and rally from 6th to 2nd, closing in 29.28. Awad was also passed by Graham and Ball dropped to 6th.

So it was Engels 4:13.70, Hubbard 4:14.35, Graham 4:14.75, Awad 4:14.85, Hubbard’s teammate Kevin Thomas 4:15.15, and Ball 4:15.34.

Said Awad afterward, “I kept pushing (after his big move with 600 left), but Craig made a big counter-move.”

Engels, meanwhile, had the look of someone dazzled by what he may have imagined to be a far-fetched plan having come true. Not that Engels didn’t have a great chance to win, but until you do it the first time on the big stage, you don’t necessarily know it’s possible. “I didn’t expect to run this fast,” he said. “The pace felt fairly hard, but I love kicking.

Engels said a 2:32 1k as part of a season-opening double, which was “not all out,” gave him a lot of confidence. After that, it was following the plan. “Coach (Chris Catton) told me to get in position with 600 to go and make my move during the lap after that. That’s what I did … It was all Coach Catton.”

While Engels is now in the elite group with a great chance to win an indoor championship, he’s most concerned with races closer to home. “I want to try and break the state 1600 record and help our team win state.”