By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
March 15, 2014
NEW YORK — For the second consecutive day, a national high school record fell in the distance disciplines here at New Balance Nationals Indoor 2014, as Brothers TC claimed the boys 4 x mile relay title in 17:07.17. Representing Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, N.J., the Colts shaved 13 seconds from the two-year old record of 17:20.20.
“We’ve been talking about it all week, every single day, and it went exactly according to plan,” said Blaise Ferro, who ran Brothers’ opening leg. “It’s a great feeling, there aren’t really words for it.”
In order to claim the national title and record, Brothers had to fend off Gig Harbor of Washington, last year’s Nike Cross Nationals team champion.
While Gig Harbor’s Tristan Peloquin led Brothers’ Blaise Ferro after the first leg, Brothers senior Mike McClemens made up ground and powered into the lead after receiving the baton. He would open roughly a 50 meter gap on the field.
Gig Harbor and Brentwood of Tennessee wouldn’t give up early, though. While Brothers relied on Fran Bogan for the third leg, Gig Harbor countered with Logan Carroll, who gradually caught back up with Brothers TC. Bogan and Carroll would navigate lapped traffic together neck-and-neck before handing off to Tommy Rooney and Wolfgang Beck, respectively. Rooney and Beck would battle the final mile, making for an epic anchor leg.
Together all the way through the bell lap, Gig Harbor’s Beck held a slight lead with 200 meters remaining. Biding his time, Rooney gave a last ditch effort to pass, accelerating around Beck’s outside shoulder with 100 meters to go.
Continuing his sprint all the way through the tape, Rooney finished first in 17:07.17, obliterating Chariho TC’s national, meet, and facility record of 17:20.20 from 2012.
“When Wolfgang got the baton in front of me I Knew I’d need to run a strong last leg,” said Rooney. “Once I caught him, I tried to catch my breath a little bit and see what I had left… Coming around that last turn, I might as well go for it and it paid off.”
The win was extra special for Brothers TC considering they had lost to Gig Harbor at Nike Cross Nationals last fall.
“After NXN we were just absolutely crushed,” admitted Rooney. “Once we found out that they were going to come to nationals here, we got pretty excited and amped it up a bit more, got more focused in training the past few weeks, and it paid off.”
Thanks to a hard fought final leg by Bonnie Angermeier, Blacksburg (Va.) took the girls 4 x mile relay in 20:28.56. After receiving the baton roughly 60 meters behind the leaders, Angermeier powered lap by lap, eventually earning herself and teammates Emily Beatty, Jenn Fleming, and Claire Ewing-Nelson the national crown.
Blacksburg’s win was made all the more impressive considering Beatty, the lead-off athlete, hasn’t been able to run recently due to an injury. When Angermeier moved into the pole position, Beatty felt on top of the world.
“I kept seeing her get closer and closer to [eventual runner-up] Oakton and I was like so excited, my heart was beating,” said Beatty. “I’m really happy, I knew she could do it.”
Added Angermeier: “By the time I got the baton we were 60 to 70 meters back. I didn’t know if I was going to make it up or not but I just did the best I could.”
In one of the most exciting finishes of the day, Flyers TC (Chaminade, N.Y.) prevailed over Blacksburg (Va.) to win the boys 4 x 800m in a facility record of 7:40.80. Together through three legs, it was up to Sean Kelly (Flyers) to fend off Kenneth Hagen (Blacksburg), both of whom are two of the fastest high school middle distance runners in the U.S. this year.
Kelly and Hagen would race nearly 700 meters together until Kelly, a senior, began to pull away. Breaking the tape in front after a 1:51.03 FAT split, Kelly and teammates Andrew Dorritie, Thomas Slattery, and Gunnar Nolan not only set an Armory record, but also a national leader for 2014.
“We came in today knowing that we definitely wanted to go for the win,” said Kelly. “This was a complete group effort and I couldn’t be happier.”
Patriots TC (Freehold Township, N.J.) won the girls 4 x 800m in style, separating from the field early and maintaining the lead with each lap. The quartet of Adrian Vitello, Caitlyn Poss, Ciara Roche, and Emily Bracher timed 9:00.62, the fastest prep time in the nation this season.
On Sunday, the final day of competition at New Balance Nationals, national champions will be crowned in the 800m, mile, and two-mile. Among the notable entrants are Alexa Efraimson in the mile (sixth at the NYRR Millrose Games Women’s Wanamaker Mile and the second fastest prep miler of all-time), Stanford-bound Elise Cranny in the 800m, and Conner Mantz, winner of Friday’s 5000m, in the boys two mile.