FRAZIER, CHESEREK SUCCESSFUL AT DAY TWO OF NEW BALANCE NATIONALS
By Chris Lotsbom
GREENSBORO, N.C. (15-June) -- Two tales of redemption played out in the Championship Two Mile races here at 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, North Carolina-native had let the pressure of defending her title rattle her a little bit.
"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, tucked into the lead pack of ten comfortably. 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.
"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, Cheserek 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 was 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 at Day Three of New Balance Nationals; 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.
The Championship Two Miles weren't the only highlights of Friday's track and field action. Below are some other noteworthy performances from the day.
Union Catholic pulled off the Boys 1600m Sprint Medley Title Championship thanks to Allen Eke prevailing over the final 800 meter leg. With Cheserek and Zavon Watkins (Liverpool) charging hard, Eke put the hammer down with 300m to go. Seconds later, the baton was knocked out of Cheserek's hand, and it was down to Union Catholic and Liverpool. Eke hit the finishing tape first, clocking a US#1 time of 3:23.15. Liverpool ran a US#2 of 3:23.98.
"This is amazing," said Eke, who was joined by Mike DeAngelis, Darryl Costello, and Jordan Jimerson in celebration.
For the Girls Sprint Medley Relay, Cosby TC of Virginia won in 3:55.17, also a US#1. Anchor Megan Moye split a 2:08.02 final 800m.
Carla Forbes leaped a US#1 of 13.04m (42-09.50 feet) for the win in the Girls Championship Triple Jump. Drawing confidence from her title at New Balance Nationals Indoors this past March, the Massachusetts-native soared past the competition.
"I just tried to come in as confident as possible," said Forbes, who had to deal with a swirling wind throughout the day. "I like meets like this because I can really get in the zone and prepare for big jumps like this. I just stayed focused and got it done."
Tevin Hester also successfully completed the New Balance Nationals Indoors/Outdoors double, winning the Championship 100m dash here today in 10.50 seconds. The sprinter from North Carolina won the 60m Indoor title last March.
In the first ever Boys Octathalon, New Jersey's Zachary McDermott beat Michael Cummings thanks to a double tiebreaker scenario. Since both men finished with the same amount of points at the end of the competition, 5180, the decision would be made by their head-to-head records. That ended up being a tie at four wins a piece. Because McDermott had the highest point total in a single event (858 points in the 110m hurdles seen here), he was crowned national champion. Cummings wasn't disappointed, though. "This is something I can tell my grandkids about someday," he said.
On Saturday, New Balance Nationals Outdoors will conclude with twelve hours of Championship action, beginning at 8:00 a.m. EST. For a livestream of meet coverage, photo galleries, results, and photobooth pictures, make sure to check out New Balance Nationals Outdoors on Facebook at www.facebook.com/newbalancenationals.