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High School Stars Shine At Brooks PR Invitational

Many meet records fall at third annual indoor event.

Many meet records fall at third annual indoor event. 

SEATTLE – The third annual Brooks PR Invitational lived up to its name on Sunday afternoon, as many of the 140 high school athletes in attendance left the rocket fast 307-meter track at Dempsey Indoor with personal records, meet records and nation-leading times.

In the first final of the day, the girls 2-mile, Erin Finn took charge from the gun, leading the field through 400 meters in a swift 73.8 seconds as the 12 girls behind her strung out in a straight line, content to let the senior from West Bloomfield, Mich., handle the pacing duties. Coming through the mile in 4:59, Finn found herself several strides ahead of the field and was never challenged en route to a new personal record of 10:08.24, which took 5 seconds off of Molly Seidel’s meet record of 10:13.45, set here last year.

“The plan was to go out hard and go for a fast time,” said Finn, the reigning indoor national 5,000m champion, who will defend her title next month in New York. “I feel most comfortable at a fast pace and I just don’t like going slow. I was ready to lead if I had to. I’m very happy.”

Wesley Frazier of Raleigh, N.C., outlasted Alexa Efraimson of Camas, Wash., for second, 10:14.88 to 10:15.22.

The boys 2-mile played out much differently, as most of the 17-runner field remained in contention through a slow opening mile of 4:38. Jacob Thompson, Jake Leingang and Bernie Montoya separated themselves over the second mile, with Leingang doing most of the dirty work. At the sound of the bell, Montoya made his move to the front with Thompson in tow. Thompson went around the 4:01 miler from Yuma, Ariz., leading into the final turn before Montoya found another gear over the final 50 meters and beat Thompson to the line, 8:54.64 to 8:54.88.

“I was a little surprised it went out so conservative,” said Montoya, who broke Daniel Vertiz’ meet record of 8:59.15 with a 4:16 last mile. “Mentally I just tried to stay fresh, stay strong and I think I did a pretty good job of that. A sub-4:20 negative split, I’m really happy with that. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Leingang held on for third, crossing the finish line in 8:56.86.

In the girls 400m final, no meet records went down, but Precious Holmes from New Haven, Conn., improved upon her second-place finish from this meet last year with a 54.37 victory here today. Shamier Little of Chicago was second in 54.65, while Deja Parrish of Plantation, Fla., took third in 55.58.

The boys 400m was the Alex Rohani show, as the senior from Beverly Hills posted the only sub-48 second clocking on the afternoon, breaking the tape in 47.89 to take home the win. Marcus Chambers of Tacoma, Wash., was almost a second back at 48.84, while Antwon Smith, who won the second heat, took third overall in 48.87.

In the girls 60m hurdles, senior Sasha Wallace of Castro Valley, Calif., upset reigning champion and meet record holder Dior Hall in the final, 8.18 to 8.21, breaking Hall’s meet record of 8.23 seconds in the process. Skylar Ross-Ransom of Houston was third in 8.33 seconds. In the boys 60m hurdles, Aaron Mallet of Florissant, Mo,. took home the title in 7.80 seconds, two hundredths of a second ahead of Freddie Crittenden of Shelby Township, Mich. Isaiah Moore of Burlington, N.C., was third in 7.96.

The boys 800m final was one of the most exciting contests of the meet, as defending champion Tyler Smith of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada, got off the line quickly and found himself out front early. Towing the field through an opening 400 meters of 55 second flat, Smith, who has been battling a sinus infection recently, entered the bell lap a full stride clear of his closest pursuers, Tre’Tez Kinnaird of Louisville, Ky., and Andres Arroyo of Orlando, Fla. Kinnaird and Arroyo closed hard over the final 150 meters, but couldn’t get past Smith, who broke the tape in 1:50.88 — a new meet record by four one-hundredths of a second. Kinnaird finished second in 1:50.97, while Arroyo held on for third in 1:51.10.

“Nobody likes to lead it,” said Smith, who was nursing a splitting headache after the race. “Everyone wants the win, and I thought it was going to be tactical, but it’s my last year and I wanted the record but I didn’t really know what I was going to do until I got on the track. Once I stepped on the track I decided, ‘Screw this, I’m just going to run it by myself. I can do 1:50.’”

The women’s 800m was a similar affair, as Hannah Meier of Gross Pointe Farms, Mich., who won the mile at this meet last year, took the race out in a swift 59 seconds through 400 meters. Meier was well clear of the remainder of the 10-runner field with a lap to go, and held on to win in a meet record 2:07:45, a second faster than Shelby Houlihan’s previous record of 2:08.59. The field made up ground on Meier over the final lap but her initial gap was too deep to close. Katie Willard of The Woodlands, Texas was second in 2:09.89 while Therese Haiss of Solon, Ohio took third in 2:10:40.

“I went out kind of fast in the beginning,” said a laughing Meier after the race. “I didn’t really know my split. I was just going for it.”

In the boys’ 60m dash, senior Cameron Burrell of Missouri City, Texas, was the upset winner, breaking the tape in 6.61 seconds to defeat defending champion Levonte Whitfield of Orlando. Burrell was also nine one hundredths of a second under the old meet record of 6.70 set by Damiere Byrd two years ago, and he now ranks number 2 on the all-time U.S. high school list. Burrell will attend the University of Houston next year, where he will train under his father, Leroy, a former two-time world-record holder in the 100 meters.

The girls 60m dash belonged to Kali Davis-White, whose 7.31-second clocking put her three hundredths of a second ahead of runner-up Aaliyah Brown of Frankfort, Ill. Third went to Hannah Cunliffe of Federal Way, Wash., who was timed in 7.38 seconds.

In the girls mile, the third time was the charm for Snohomish, Wash., senior Amy-Eloise Neale, the runner-up at this meet each of the last two years. Setting a conservative pace from the race’s early stages, Neale led most of the way before Haley Meier, sister of 800m champion Hannah Meier, shot into the lead with 200 meters to go. Meier was still leading off the final turn toward the finish line, but she was no match for Neale’s finishing speed over the final 60 meters. Neale, who covered her final 400 meters in 65 seconds, broke the tape in 4:45.89 while Meier held on for second in 4:46.56. Anna Maxwek of Felton, Calif., was third in 4:47.37.

“I’m so happy to be able to run such a good race on my new home track,” said Neale, who will attend the University of Washington next year. “Running in here, you get used to the atmosphere. I think it definitely helped me having that experience and feeling comfortable running here, but at the same time it totally depends on who you’re running against.”

There were fireworks in the boys mile, but it was who ignited them that provided the biggest surprise. Heading into the race, most eyes were on senior Jacob Burcham of West Virginia, the top seed in the field with a personal best of 4:02. Trevor Gilley, who finished last here a year ago in 4:18, wasn’t considered amongst the favorites to win. But with a quarter mile to go, it was Gilley who everyone was looking at, as the senior from Forth Worth, Texas, ran 58 seconds for his final 400 meters to win in a personal best 4:08.24 – the fastest high school time in the country this season — while Burcham faded to fifth.

“It went out just like it did last year, and I moved too early and faded,” recalled Gilly, who will run at Ole Miss next year. “I just tried to stay smarter this time and go when I knew I was ready to go.”