By Chris Lotsbom, New Balance Outdoor Nationals
GREENSBORO, NC, USA (16-June) — North Carolina’s Wesley Frazier made history on the final day of competition here at New Balance Nationals Outdoor, becoming the first girl ever to successfully complete the long distance triple. Winning the mile, two 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 the championships. In addition to Frazier’s phenomenal run, three meet records were broken on the third day of competition, capping off a great weekend of track and field action.
For the 17-year-old Frazier, June 14 through 16 will go down as one of the most memorable weekends of her athletics career. After taking the 5000m and Two 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. 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 race– if I was going to be able to win this one,” said Frazier. “I just had to wait until the last lap and go.”
Down the homestretch, Frazier wouldn’t slow the pace despite knowing the victory was hers. Breaking the tape in 4:39.66, Frazier became the first girl ever to win the mile, two mile, and 5000m at New Balance Nationals in one weekend. 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 of Raleigh 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.
Frazier’s run was not the only highlight from Sunday. Three meet records fell over the ten hours of competition here today. The Boys of Red Tide TC recorded the fastest 4xMile time in meet history, while Texan decathlete Travis Toliver scored a meet best of 6846 points. In the Boys 800 meters, John Crossley destroyed the meet record with a time of 1:48.01.
Coming from behind, Red Tide TC of Michigan was able to close hard and catch pre-race favorite Stillwater TC (Minn.) in the boys 4xMile relay. 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 TC, who was pushing the pace up front.
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.
A fast 4:13.40 final leg complete with a killer kick helped Red Tide take the lead and 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. Stillwater TC hung on for second, with Northport TC coming in third.
Toliver, the winner in the Boys Decathlon, began his competition on Saturday with a great start: two personal bests in the opening two events, the 100 meters and long jump. Adding a win in the shot put and a strong performance in the 400 meters, Toliver was well on his way to a podium finish.
“Day one’s not my strong day but I PR’d in two events and that set me off with a good start,” he said. Though he was sitting in second after day one ended, Toliver was confident that he could separate from the rest of the competition on Sunday.
“Day two is always better for me, as I am an open pole vaulter and javelin thrower,” he said.
After finishing second in the 110m hurdles and discus throw, Toliver won the pole vault with ease, soaring 4.56 meters. Following a narrow second in the javelin, the only event left to conquer was the 1500m.
Admittedly not his best event, Toliver kept his mind on the task at hand and willed his way to a 5:03.93 time, good enough for 537 points and the meet record. His point tally at the conclusion of Sunday was 6846, bettering Kris Horn’s previous record of 6720.
“I knew what I had to run for the meet record and I kept my eye on [the clock] the entire time,” he said with a laugh. “It feels awesome.”
In the Boys 800m, North Carolina’s 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 cross the line 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.
Courtney Corrin of Playa Vista, California, tied the meet record in the Girls Long Jump, measuring 6.28m (20-07.25 feet).
Day three of New Balance Nationals saw a number of athletes earn their second title of the weekend. In the span of about 24 hours, Minnesota’s Magdayln Ewen earned a pair of national crowns in the Girls Discus and Shot Put, the latter of which was won on Sunday. Entering Sunday’s competition, Ewen was determined to obtain another national crown and All American honor.
“I’ve been working on shot put so much –and the discus– and I’m glad it all paid off,” said the Arizona State-bound Ewen, who reached 16.55m (54-03.75 feet) in her second throw. “I’m glad I got it in my second throw cause then I could just relax and throw hard from there.”
The girls of Team FitFast of New Jersey won both the 1600m Sprint Medley Relay (Saturday) and 4x400m on Sunday.
Many New Balance Nationals Indoor champions transitioned to the Outdoor championships without a hitch, continuing where they left off three months ago in New York City. Among Sunday’s winners who took home national Indoor titles as well were Henry Wynne (Boys Mile), Daven Murphree (Boys Pole Vault), Sabrina Southerland (Girls 800m), and Marlon Humphrey (Indoor Pentathlon, Outdoor 400m Hurdles). Virginia’s Michael Cherry defended his Outdoor title in the 400m Hurdles; he was also the Indoor 400m winner this past March.
Sunday concluded the 2013 edition of New Balance Nationals, which saw 4,200 athletes from 47 states compete. For complete New Balance Nationals Outdoor coverage, visit the event Facebook page at www.facebook.com/newbalancenationals and @NBRunning on Twitter.
The next New Balance Nationals event will be New Balance Nationals Indoor, taking place from March 14-16, 2014 in New York City at the New Balance Armory Track and Field Center.