By Chris Lotsbom.
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

June 15, 2012

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Two tales of redemption played out in the Championship Two Mile races here at THE New Balance Nationals Outdoors, sealing a near perfect day of competition filled with national leading marks, stunning finishes, and a few surprises. Edward Cheserek and Wesley Frazier clocked 8:55.12 and 10:13.43 for the two mile distance, respectively, making up for earlier performances that had left the pair a bit disappointed.

First on the track was Frazier, who had finished third in Thursday's Championship 5000m. Coming in as the reigning 5000m champion, the Raleigh, N.C. native had let the pressure of defending her title rattle her.

"I felt a lot of pressure from last year, having won it," said Frazier. "I didn't feel very good in the [5000m] race, I got really tired towards the end. I was just hoping I could come back today and have a better finish in this race."

That would indeed happen. Through halfway in just over five minutes, Frazier sat in prime position, comfortably tucked into the lead pack of ten. Biding her time, Frazier finally made her move with 200m to go, unleashing a kick reminiscent of last year, when the 16-year-old won the mile at New Balance Nationals Outdoors.  She kicked past both Natalie Shields and Dana Giordano to get the win.

"I was really motivated from yesterday," said Frazier, who lives just over an hour from the track here in Greensboro. "I just saw my opportunity and I took it."

Breaking the tape in 10:13.43, Frazier wiped the sweat from her brow, a gesture that could have represented the pressure leaving her small frame.

"I felt good, I had a good kick and I felt great at the end," she said.

Frazier isn't planning to settle on her title, though. Along with her Zussen TC teammates, she will compete in the mile and distance medley relay tomorrow.

"A lot of ice and resting between now and then," noted Frazier with a laugh.

Also obtaining redemption of sorts was Cheserek, who ran the Championship Sprint Medley Relay earlier in the day. In that race, Cheserek had received the baton in sixth place, well behind the leaders. But in his usual fashion, he immediately surged, regaining contact with those in the front pack.

All seemed well until there was 250 meters to go, when the baton Cheserek was carrying got knocked out by another competitor. As Union Catholic and Liverpool ran towards a national leading mark, Cheserek was forced to backtrack, pick up the stick and continue on without a shot at the title. Ultimately he would finish last in the heat.

The stoic Cheserek wouldn't let the disappointment get to him, though. His main goal at New Balance Nationals was the two mile, and that was still four hours away.

"Everybody has bad days. If you have a good day, it is good for you. But if you have a bad day, I am OK with that. I still have time," said Cheserek post-race.

When it came time for the Two Mile, Cheserek played to his pre-race strategy and sat in second for nearly the entire race. Not until there were 400 meters to go would the 18-year-old from Kenya unleash his ferocious kick. Down the final stretch, Cheserek separated from a chasing Thomas Graham, hands pumping and head frequently turning back to see if Graham was still on his tail.

"That was my plan, to wait patiently until 200m to go, then I tried to win it," said Cheserek, who broke the yellow finish tape with hands up high in 8:55.12. "I'm so excited to be national champion."

Cheserek will not be competing tomorrow on the third and final day of this meet.  Instead, he will prepare to fly back to Kenya, where he plans to spend time with his family in Nairobi, then begin training for the fall cross country season in Iten.

"I want to come back and earn another title," said the quiet Cheserek.


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