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Double Champions Rule Day 3 At New Balance Nationals

Wesley Frazier, who won the 5000m and mile, was one of them.

Wesley Frazier was one of the double champions on day three of Nationals. Photo: NC Runners

Wesley Frazier, who won the 5000m and mile, was one of them.

By Chris Lotsbom

(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (19-Jun) — A stunning number of double champions prevailed here yesterday on the third day of New Balance Nationals.  Overall, the Saturday session produced five national champions who had already won a title in one of the previous two days of the competition.

Sean McLean (100m and 200m), Edward Cheserek (5000m and distance medley relay), Wesley Frazier (5000m and mile), Knightdale TC (boy’s 4×100 and 4×200), and Harvard-Westlake TC (girl’s 1600m sprint medley and distance medley relays) were those lucky enough to bring home two all-American certificates, as well as a pair of national champion rings.

Harvard-Westlake’s double might be the most impressive of the bunch, setting a national record in the distance medley relay. Coming into the race, the quartet made up of Amy Weissenbach, K.C. Cord, Lauren Hansson, and Cami Chapus were not feeling too well; the group became sick after flying half-way across the country from California.  But a little illness didn’t stop the group from taking to the starting line, nor did an hour and fifty minute weather delay, which produced fierce rain and wind.

“I think it pumped us up,” said Weissenbach. “We got excited, and we were talking about it before, that a kind of energy came from the storm.” With the storm gone, perfect racing conditions prevailed, cooler temperatures and a slight breeze making the heat of the afternoon an afterthought.

When Weissenbach finished her 3:24.85 1200m leg with over a five second lead, Cord and Hanson’s jobs were to hold off the fast charging Stotan Racing team of Fayetteville-Manlius, N.Y. They did just that, handing the baton to Chapus, the winner of last week’s Dream Mile, in the lead. Chapus’s split of 4:45.23 capped off the 11:22.23 relay, breaking Blacksburg, Virginia’s national record of 11:31.26 by nearly ten seconds. In total, three teams dipped under the previous record.

“I just knew if it came down to the last 600m, 400m, or 200m, that I could kick, and that I knew I really wanted this for my team,” said a hoarse Chapus, struggling to keep her lost voice audible.

Harvard-Westlake’s coach, Olympic gold medalist Joanna Hayes, reiterated the confidence and faith in her team.

“Coming in, we knew that they had the ability to do something really incredible and very special. And we believed they could do it, but you can’t get too excited until it actually happens. We are super, super excited.”

Second to the distance medley relay had to be Wesley Frazier’s improbable win in the mile. Frazier, the 5000m champion from Raleigh, N.C., sneaked up on the field in the final lap. Charging hard, the sophomore seemed to be shot out of a cannon down the homestretch, crossing the tape with a shocked look on her face.

“I have no idea [how I won]. I was absolutely surprised, I was feeling really good. I was like ‘I only have 200m left,’ and then I tried to kick and I started passing people,” she explained following her 4:44.76 performance.

“I couldn’t believe it when I finished.” The win capped off an amazing weekend– a victory in the 5000m on Thursday, a third place finish in the two-mile Friday, and now another win in the mile. The weekend performance had a similar feel to Lukas Verzbicas’s triple at New Balance Indoors. But he was a senior when he earned three wins in three days; Frazier is only a sophomore and she took two in three.

“It will definitely motivate me for the next year, to get the triple,” she said.

Fellow North Carolinian Sean McLean won the 100m and 200m on consecutive days. Saturday, the senior bound for Southern Methodist University, ran 20.62. Also from North Carolina is Knightdale TC, who won the 4x100m and 4x200m. When asked what might be the secret to three Tar Heel state based winners earning double titles, McLean replied, “I guess we just train hard. North Carolina’s got great athletes, we always have.”

St. Benedict Prep’s Edward Cheserek ran a 4:02.30 final leg in the boy’s distance medley relay to break Jim and Joe Rosa’s Plainsboro TC, 9:51.97 to 9:54.78. The usually quiet Cheserek said he will definitely miss racing against the twins, while the twins said the same about him.

Other highlights from Saturday include a dominant 800m from Austin Mudd in 1:48.09, an upset win for Jacob Blankenship in the pole vault, and a meet record for Shelby Ashe in the hammer throw.