By Chris Lotsbom, New Balance Nationals
GREENSBORO, NC, USA (15-June) — A full day of excellent performances –including four meet records– made for an exciting second day of competition here at New Balance Nationals Outdoor in Greensboro, North Carolina. Meet records were broken in both the Boys and Girls Shuttle Hurdle Relay, as well as the Boys Octathlon and Hammer Throw. To cap off the evening, North Carolina’s Wesley Frazier earned her second title in as many days, setting her up for a shot at the ever elusive distance triple crown.
Union Catholic of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, was able to successfully complete the 2013 New Balance Nationals Indoor/Outdoor double, sweeping the Boys Shuttle Hurdle Relays in record setting runs. The quartet of Animashaun Obafemi, Christoffe Scott, Taylor McLaughlin, and Zach Gizzone avoided unexpected obstacles and completed each of their 110m legs with ease, timing a new meet record of 56.63.
“We came here for two things: to win the race and get the [meet] record. The first thing we had to do was win the race. Everything went out of my mind and I started running,” said the lead off Animashaun.
As Animashaun was making his way down the homestretch, all of a sudden Western Branch’s Aaron Simpson crashed to the track two lanes over. The fall startled –yet sharpened– the junior Animashaun.
“When the Western Branch kid fell, I was like ‘who am I racing now? The clock!'” he said.
With only time as their competition, Scott, McLaughlin, and Gizzone made sure they ran the entire stretch as hard as possible while not being distracted by Simpson, who was still lying in pain meters away. Approaching the line, Gizzone knew he would be close to breaking the meet record of 57.81, ironically set by Western Branch in 2012.
As he crossed the finish, Gizzone immediately heard the large Union Catholic fan base cheer, signaling that the quartet had indeed established a new meet record.
“We’ve never won anything back to back [speaking of the Indoor/Outdoor double]. Our school is going to be known as a shuttle hurdle legacy. One national record and one meet record is pretty good,” said Gizzone. The team credited part of their success to the bright yellow, lightning-like New Balance singlets which they sported.
“We had to switch it up and shock the competition,” said Scott with a smile.
Western Branch TC of Virginia prevailed in the Girls Shuttle Hurdle Relay, achieving their goal of breaking 58 seconds and earning the national title. The quartet of Milan Parks, Irielle Little, Funlayo Oluwole, and Devin Heath came out on top despite some pre-race drama.
In heat two of four, New Rochelle TC of New York ran 58.68 seconds, the fastest time in meet history. While Johari Privott-Yeiser, Ashley Wiggins, Alyssa McDonald, and Alicia Donaldson celebrated their win, Western Branch’s Parks and Oluwole looked at one another. They could read each other’s mind: run fast so we can break the new meet record and dip under 58 seconds.
“As soon as they said it [was a meet record] I looked to my teammate and said this is our new goal, we’re trying to beat that time,” said Parks, the opening leg.
Excited rather than nervous, Western Branch TC channeled their focus and executed a near flawless race, becoming the first team in meet history to crack 58 seconds. Their time of 57.74 was over a second ahead of last year’s winner Long Beach Poly of California.
“Each of us do the 100m hurdles individually, but we’ve only done one or two shuttle hurdle relays together,” said Heath, the anchor. “So this was our time to really shine.”
Also setting a meet record was Rudy Winkler, a senior out of Sand Lake, New York. On his final throw, Winkler unleashed a 76.70m (251-08 feet) measurement, more than two feet farther than the previous meet mark.
“I’m really happy to win here,” said Winkler, who will throw at Cornell University next year. “It feels great to get the meet record, it really is a great accomplishment for me.”
Winkler won the competition by nearly ten feet.
In the Boys Octathlon, Harrison Williams of Tennessee set a meet record, totaling 5921 points. The junior –who chose not to do the Decathlon as he is competing in the discipline next week at the IAAF World Youth Championships– was pleased with his performance.
“I was pretty confident I was going to break it,” said Williams, who won three of the eight events contested. “I wanted to break 6,000 [points] but I had a little hiccup in the high jump and javelin. Oh well.”
North Carolina’s Wesley Frazier proved once again that she should be considered as one of the top prep athletes ever to compete at New Balance Nationals. With the sun beginning to set, the 17-year-old earned her second title in as many days, completing the second leg of her triple crown attempt in the Girls Two Mile.
“I felt really strong about going into the last 800m. I thought it was a little too early to take the lead, so I wanted to hang on a little bit longer with the group and see on the last lap how much I could take off,” said Frazier.
As the bell sounded with 400 meters remaining, Frazier unleashed a ferocious kick that timed 65.35 seconds. Crossing in 10:07.35, Frazier now turns her focus towards tomorrow’s Mile, which takes place at 4:55 EST.
“I’ll just see what I have left,” she said with a smile.
Ky Westbrook of Arizona ran her best despite windy conditions, timing 11.62 seconds to win her second consecutive Girls 100m national crown. Though the junior didn’t run quite as fast as she had hoped, she was delighted with the win. Westbrook said that running at New Balance Nationals on the Aggie Stadium track is always the highlight of her season.
“This is my favorite meet of the whole year. It’s a huge meet with lots of competition,” she said. “Favorite weather, favorite track, favorite everything.”
Trayvon Bromell of Saint Petersburg, Florida, timed 10.41 seconds in the Boys 100m, taking the national title by a hair over Cameron Burrell (10.44 seconds). Kendal Williams rounded out the top three.
Defending a title of his own was Boys 110m hurdle champion Wellington Zaza of Pennsylvania. His winning time was 13.54 seconds, more than a quarter of a second ahead of his closest competitor.
Other highlights of Day Two include:
Jr. Striders of North Carolina –Friday’s Swedish Medley Relay champions– timed 1:36.39 in the Girls 4x200m to win their second national title in as many days.
Colorado’s Bailey Roth came out of the first section to win the Boys 2000m steeplechase in 5:49.24. Keelin Hollowood of New York defended her title in the Girls race.
In the Girls 1600m Sprint Medley Relay, Team FitFast of New Jersey just missed the national and meet record of 3:51.90. Later on Saturday, they came back and won the 4x800m.
Keturah Orji jumped the number six mark ever in high school history, winning the Girls Triple Jump with ease. Her longest measurement was 13.34m (43-09.25 feet).
Magdayln Ewen, one of the pre-eminent throwers to emerge on the high school stage this year, won the Girls Discus with a throw of 50.62m. The Minnesota native will go for the Shot Put title tomorrow.
Natives of Auburn, Alabama, finished one-two in the Boys Javelin. Justin Carter launched a throw of 64.81m (212-07 feet) to win the title, while Sam Hardin finished runner-up with a mark of 62.83m (206-02 feet).
Virginia’s Sean McGorty led wire to wire in the Boys Two Mile, timing 8:45.61. Lap by lap, the senior wore out the rest of the field, which included the likes of New Balance Nationals Indoor 5000m champion Elijah Armstrong, 4:01.71 miler Bernie Montoya, and cross country ace Sam Wharton. McGorty’s final time was 8:45.61.
Action continues Sunday, when more than fifteen national champions will be crowned. Among the featured events are the Championship Mile, 4x400m, Shot Put, and Long Jump. Stay tuned to the New Balance Nationals Facebook page and @NBRunning on Twitter for live New Balance Nationals coverage. Links to the event’s livestream, pictures, and results are available on the New Balance Nationals Facebook page.