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Wesley Frazier Shines At NB Nationals

She medaled in multiple distance events on the track.

She medaled in multiple distance events on the track. 

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

GREENSBORO, NC — Ravenscroft High School junior Wesley Frazier made a strong claim for why she may be one of the best female distance runner ever to come out of the state of North Carolina, leaving the New Balance Nationals Outdoors with a fistful of hardware. Frazier departs Greensboro for her home in Raleigh as the most decorated athlete of the meet, having earned one gold medal, one silver, one bronze, and a come-from-behind fourth place finish that garnered another medal.

Starting Thursday, Frazier finished third in the 5000m, then came back 25 hours later to win the two-mile in 10:13.43. Leaving the track tired on Friday night, Frazier said she hoped to return and finish on the podium two more times on Saturday. The 16-year-old did just that, placing second in the mile and fourth in the distance medley relay for her Zussen Track Club team.

Finishing less than three seconds behind Kelsey Margey (the mile winner in 4:45.84), Frazier skipped the mile awards ceremony to return to her Zussen TC teammates, who were preparing to take the track for the DMR. Only twenty minutes separated the two events.

“I was pretty much beat at that time,” said Frazier. “I was like, ‘I don’t have much left now,’ but I just needed a little break before I did another mile.”  She would take the twenty minutes to get water, stretch out and get back to the starting line.

When Ryen Frazier, Wesley’s sister, led off the DMR with a solid opening leg, things looked very promising. But as powerhouse Ridgewood TC picked the pace up towards the front, Zussen TC was shuffled back. Sisters Julie and Carole Verdru did their best on the next two legs, trying to keep the team in contention. Carole would hand off to Wesley in ninth place. It was time for her final “mile” (1600m) of the weekend.

That was when Wesley turned it on. Again. Drawing from friends and teammates in the stands –some holding signs, others blowing vuvuzelas and screaming encouragement– Frazier began picking runners off one by one. Before the junior knew it, she was in fourth rounding the final bend.

“I wanted to get in the top six, I really wanted our team to get there [on the podium],” said Frazier. But she wasn’t done yet. Making a valiant effort for third, Frazier came up just a quarter of a second short. The finishing time of 11:58.84 was still good enough for another medal and All-American honors (the top six finishers in each event receive such recognition).

“I’m so proud,” said Wesley’s sister, Ryen, moments after the victory. Placing the medal around Wesley’s neck, Ryen cracked a warming smile. “She knew that she had to make up a lot. We all really wanted it, and she knew she could do it…I was really happy for her.”

The win was especially meaningful for the Verdru sisters. The pair, who moved to Raleigh four years ago and began competing with the Frazier’s on the Ravenscroft High School team, were running their final race in America. Tomorrow, they will move back to The Netherlands. It was only fitting that the relay team –made up of two pairs of sisters– was titled “Zussen,” the Dutch for the word sisters.

“We never imagined anything like this,” said the younger Verdru, Julie, who ran the 400m leg. “Running with the Fraziers, it is such an honor.”

Elsewhere in the middle and long distance races contested Saturday, Ahmed Bile notched his first national title in the 800m. While Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Robert Rhodes looked like he would win running from wire to wire, Bile sneaked up in lane one, passing on the inside with meters to go. Somewhat shocked, Bile took first in 1:49.85.

“People usually pass on the outside, but the whole first lane was open. I was like, ‘I feel like I can catch him if I go on the inside.’ It was really risky,” said Bile, who was a bit intimidated before the race.

Bile, whose father Abdi was the 1987 World Champion over 1500m when competing for Somalia, also said he hopes the win helps make a name for himself.

“People still call me Abdi’s son,” the tall Bile said with a smile. “Hopefully now they’ll be like ‘Hey that’s Ahmed, he is a national champion.”

In the girls Championship 800m, Raevyn Rodgers went out in a blistering 59.06 seconds for 400 meters. Separating from the rest of the field, Rodgers won comfortably with a five meter lead in 2:05.50, a US#4 mark.

Jacob Burcham of Barboursville, W.V., won the Boy’s Championship Mile in 4:08.80, running from the gun in front. After finishing second in 4:02.73 at last week’s adidas Dream High School Mile, Burcham was hoping to run close to four minutes Saturday. But with no one near him to push the pace after 800m, the junior cruised through the line in 4:08.80.

“I’m happy definitely with the title. It’s the first win I’ve had in a while,” said Burcham, 17. “It feels good to win again, its been a while.”

In the first event of the day, Tatnall School of Delaware came close to a meet and national record in the Girls 4xMile Relay, running 20:02.90, the third fastest mark ever run in the event. Anchor Haley Pierce ran a solo final mile of 4:53.49 to take the win; it is the second New Balance Nationals Meet in a row that Tatnall has won the 4xMile, as Pierce, Reagan Anderson, Julie Williams, and Rebecca Salter combined to run 20:00.97 at New Balance Nationals Indoors in March.

A pair of Massachusetts teams battled until the end in the Boy’s Distance Medley Relay. Marshfield TC narrowly edged Titans TC (Pembroke, Mass.), 10:01.32 to 10:02.13. What makes this result unique is that Marshfield and Pembroke are neighboring towns on the South Shore of Massachusetts.

Keelin Hollowood (Saratoga Springs, NY) and Brendan Smith (Fayetteville, NY) were Girl’s and Boy’s 2000m steeplechase champions, respectively.