The 17-year-old high school phenom makes history at nationals.
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GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina’s Wesley Frazier made history on the final day of competition at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor on Sunday, becoming the first girl ever to successfully complete the long distance triple, winning the mile, 2-mile, and 5000m in a span of less than 72 hours. Frazier established herself as one of the best prep athletes ever to compete in these championships.
For the 17-year-old from Raleigh, June 14-16 will go down as one of the most memorable weekends of her athletics career. After taking the 5000m and 2-mile titles on Friday and Saturday, respectively, the Duke-bound senior toed the line at Aggie Stadium for the final time as a high school athlete in the mile here today. She was determined to make her last hurrah a memorable one.
“I’m really happy about it, I couldn’t ask for a better end to my high school career,” she said following the win.
Through halfway in 2:22.15, Frazier sat meters behind New Jersey’s Josette Norris, who had attempted to run the wheels off of Frazier. Responding to Norris’s move with ease, Frazier ran within herself as she came up on the leader’s shoulder.
Just like she had in her previous two wins, Frazier decided her time to go was at the start of the bell lap. Immediately, she extended her stride and opened up a gap on the trailing Norris.
“I wasn’t sure — having already run so hard in the last two races — if I was going to be able to win this one,” said Frazier. “I just had to wait until the last lap and go.”
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Down the homestretch, Frazier wouldn’t slow the pace despite knowing the victory was hers. Breaking the tape in 4:39.66, just tenths off of her personal best, Frazier became the first girl ever to win the mile, 2-mile, and 5000m at New Balance Nationals. The only other person to complete the high school trifecta was Lukas Verzbicas at the 2011 New Balance Nationals Indoor meeting.
Frazier’s initial reaction to the historic feat was how painful it was. For the first time all weekend, Frazier showed fatigue just after she broke the tape, going to her knees in complete exhaustion.
“I’m happy it’s over,” she said with a laugh. “I’m pretty sore … I don’t know if I’d do it again.”
Making history roughly 70 miles from her hometown meant the world to Frazier, as many of her friends and family were in attendance. Receiving her All-American crown and medal, Frazier got a standing ovation from the crowd.
After breaking 16:00 for 5000m on Friday evening, some track fans and media members began comparing Frazier to Mary Cain, the Alberto Salazar-coached athlete who has broken high school records from 800m to 5000m. Frazier rejected the comparison.
“She’s an incredible athlete, I have a lot of respect for her. That is saying a lot,” she said with a chuckle. “She definitely has higher credentials than I do right now. She’s better; I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily on her level. But I appreciate the comparison.”
What makes Frazier’s success even more remarkable is that she runs only about 40 miles a week. Including warm ups and cool downs, she estimated that she had covered between 15 and 20 miles in the last three days alone.
Crossley, Red Tide Set Meet Records
In the boys 800m, North Carolina’s John Crossley set a meet record thanks to a patient strategy. Louisiana’s Blair Henderson took the pace out at a blistering clip from the gun, stringing the field out by 400m.
Sitting behind was Crossley, knowing the quick early pace would likely tire most of the field.
“Everybody took it out fast. I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But I ran my race, I don’t worry about them.”
With less than 300 meters remaining, Crossley made his move, taking the lead with authority.
“I figured I’d had such a good season, I might as well leave it all out right here in my last race,” said Crossley, who would break the tape in 1:48.01, shaving .08 of a second off the previous meet record.
“It feels awesome. It’s an honor for me to be here and do the best I can do,” said Crossley, competing at his first New Balance National meet.
Another meet record fell in the boys 4xMile, as Red Tide TC of Michigan came through with a late charge. Thanks to a 4:13.40 anchor leg by Brian Kettle, the pride of Milford High School set a new meet record of 17:16.12.
“We knew we had a shot to do great things, we just didn’t know what those great things would be necessarily,” said Kettle. “It’s great to win and set a meet record.”
After strong opening legs by Kyle Monagle and Kevin Black, Cody Snavely received the baton in sixth, nine seconds out of first place. One by one, the senior worked to move up and get closer to Stillwater, who was pushing the pace up front.
“My whole goal was to just slowly reel them back in and catch up with people, using them to key off of and keep moving up so I could hand it off to Brian,” said Snavely.
When Brian Kettle was handed the baton, Stillwater TC was still ahead with Northport TC (NY) close behind. Lap by lap, Kettle began catching the front runners, using his miler speed to his advantage.
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A fast 4:13.40 final leg complete with a killer kick helped Red Tide secure the national title. The meet record that came along with it was an added bonus.
“Time is not really something you’re always worried about. You just run hard and time takes care of itself,” said a smiling Kettle. Red Tide’s finishing time was the fastest prep time run since 1986. Stillwater TC hung on for second, with Northport TC coming in third.
Red Tide wasn’t the only Michigan team to shine in the 4xMile relay. Spirit of Pre (Saline, Mich.) won the girls title in 20:30.32. The quartet of Elianna Shwayder, Abby Rentschler, Alyssa Cummings, and Lauren Green improved upon their fourth place finish at New Balance Nationals Indoor three months ago.
Southerland, Wynne Take 800m, Mile
Reigning New Balance Nationals Indoor winners Sabrina Southerland and Henry Wynne won the girls 800m and boys mile, respectively. Both ran away from the fields in the final lap with little challenge.
Southerland, from New York, timed 2:06.26 for two laps. Though her time was slower than her Indoor performance, the senior was still happy.
Wynne, also a senior, took the mile lead before 400m and never looked back. As soon as the bell rang, Wynne dug down and found another gear, using it to power home in 4:07.84.
“I love these meets because of the crowds,” he said. “They definitely make me run faster.”
Distance medley relay titles were won by West Springfield TC (Virginia) on the girls side and Westerville TC (Ohio) on the boys.
Over 4,200 athletes from 47 states competed at New Balance Nationals.