The North Carolina native won the girls 2-mile on Saturday.
(c) Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Hometown favorite Wesley Frazier continued her quest for the elusive distance triple crown here on the second day of New Balance Outdoor Nationals, while Virginia’s Sean McGorty dropped a strong field in the boys 2-mile. Fast 2000m steeplechases and 4x800m relays made for an excellent day of distance competition at America’s high school athletics national championships.
As the gun sounded and 13 girls took off from the start of the 2-mile, no single athlete wanted to take over the leading duties. With typical front runner Erin Finn scratching from the event, it fell to Washington’s Katie Knight and New York’s Katie Lembo to pull the field along. Sitting an arm’s length behind was Frazier, Friday’s 5000m winner and meet record holder.
Things stayed relatively calm through the first mile, reached first by Lembo in 5:06.91. Behind remained the entire field, bunched up with athletes finding themselves in lanes 2 and 3 at points.
Frazier’s strategy of waiting and letting others do the work seemed to be playing into her hands, as New England Outdoor 3200m champion Hannah DeBalsi and Ohio’s Annie Heffernan took turns at the front. Still tucked in behind was Frazier.
“I don’t like to take the lead early in the race,” said Frazier moments after finishing.
With two laps to go, Frazier debated unleashing a long kick and moving to the front.
“I felt really strong about going into the last 800m. I thought it was a little too early to take the lead, so I wanted to hang on a little bit longer with the group and see on the last lap how much I could take off,” she said.
As the bell sounded with 400 meters remaining, Frazier unleashed a ferocious kick that timed 65.35 seconds for the final lap. Crossing the finish in 10:07.35, the 17-year-old now has won the first two legs of the distance triple crown: the 5000m, two-mile, and mile (to be held Sunday).
“It’s harder than I make it look,” said Frazier when responding to Race Results Weekly’s comment on how effortless she made the race look.
Frazier then turned her focus towards Sunday’s mile.
RELATED: Finn Rebounds For Nationals
“I’ll just see what I have left,” she said with a smile. Last year, Frazier placed second in the discipline.
Moments after Frazier walked off the track, it was the boys turn at 2 miles. Taking the lead from the gun was McGorty, the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships runner-up. Lap-by-lap, the senior wore out the rest of the field, which included the likes of New Balance Nationals Indoor 5000m champion Elijah Armstrong, 4:01.71 miler Bernie Montoya, and Nike Cross Nationals winner Sam Wharton.
Timing 1:02.78 for the opening 440 yards, McGorty was set on keeping the pace honest from the beginning. Even before completing his second lap, McGorty had left most of the field behind, with only Connecticut’s James Randon and Montoya chasing within five meters.
“Coming in, you always look at the field and you have to know what types of runners your running against. I know especially Bernie has a great kick, he’s shown that at multiple races,” he said. “I wanted to come in here and run the way I do, sort of going out at a quick pace from the start and trying to hold on or pick it up if I feel good.”
Hitting the first mile in 4:20.69, McGorty was confident in his positioning. Montoya had dropped back a step and wouldn’t play a factor the rest of the way. Randon would be the only strong challenger, staying within reach until 500m remained. From there, it was all McGorty.
“I tried to drop them all, just try to rely on my strengths and I was able to do that,” he said. “I wanted to finish as quickly as possible and enjoy, soak up the moment.”
McGorty’s final time was 8:45.61, just under seven seconds ahead of Randon. Montoya wound up third, with Mickey Burke and Wharton rounding out the top five.
In only his second steeplechase ever, Bailey Roth of Colorado won the boys 2000m steeplechase national title with a 5:49.24, the fifth best time in history among prep athletes. Entered in the slower heat with a seed time of 6:18.25, Roth surprised everyone — even himself — by running faster than anyone in the seeded section.
“It is a huge surprise; I was not sure what I could run. I’m really happy I could come out here and do that,” said Roth. “I didn’t know what to expect. I had always wanted to try it.”
From 800m to 1200m, Roth opened up an immense gap of nearly ten seconds on the field, clearing each of the barriers with ease. Passing 1600m in 4:38.89, Roth was clearly going to be the winner of his heat. The only question remaining was if anyone in the faster section could better his 5:49.24 time. The answer was no.
“Coming in, I thought I could run faster than my seed,” said the honest Roth.
RELATED: Records Fall On Day 1 At Nationals
Ironically, Roth’s first steeplechase came by accident at last year’s Caribbean Scholastic Invitational. At the encouragement of officials, Roth entered the steeplechase on a whim and won in 6:18.25, despite having no proper training. Before Saturday’s race, Roth only did a little hurdle work as preparation.
“Getting off the barriers here was a totally different thing for me,” he said. After his win, Roth said he surely will consider running the event more often in the future.
New York’s Keelin Hollowood won her second straight national title in the girls 2000m steeplechase, prevailing in the seeded section. Interestingly, the seeded section was made up of all New Yorkers; the state is known for their steeplechase talent and have produced champions like meet record holder Mary Kate Anselmini and 2012 champion Brianna Nerud.
After finishing second at the New York State Championships just last week, Hollowood was extra motivated to do well here. Taking the lead early, Hollowood led over the first two water jumps before relinquishing the front duties to Valerie Palermo — the New York state champion.
“I just came here wanting to make my last high school race the best I could,” said Hollowood. “I kicked very strong and wanted to finish strong.”
For a quarter mile, it looked as if Palermo may run away with the title. But Hollowood never gave in, coming back at the bell to take the lead. Increasing her cushion, she won going away with a time of 6:43.96.
“Coming here and not defending my title played in my head a couple times and was definitely not something I wanted to do. I just came out here today and gave the best I could,” said Hollowood, who will attend Providence College next year and be coached by Ray Treacy. Palermo placed second in 6:47.62.
Team FitFast of New Jersey won the girls 4x800m in 9:01.12 after being behind in the first two legs. On the boys side, Raber TC of Indiana took the title, though it was third place finisher Staples TC that caught many fans’ attention. Anchor Henry Wynne moved up six positions with a fierce 1:48.93 split.
“I was just doing it for the team, moving on up. I’m just amazed,” he said still out of breath.