2014 Brooks PR Invitational, A Class Act, by Roy Stevenson

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Brooks PR Invite, courtesy of Brooks Running

Roy Stevenson, a frequent contributor to RunBlogRun, wrote this piece on the 2014 Brooks PR Invitational. Roy will be writing for us at the World Juniors in Eugene in July! 


2014 Brooks PR Invitational: A Class Act, by Roy Stevenson

Renton Memorial Stadium, Seattle.


Formerly an indoor meet, the 2014 Brooks PR Invitational was held outdoors today for the first time--at South Seattle's Renton Memorial Stadium--and the move proved to be a smash hit success. The weather cooperated nicely, with a high temp of 71 degrees and nary a cloud in the sky, surprising many visitors who expected Seattle rain. 


Despite the stiff breeze down the home straight, this assemblage of the nation's finest High School distance runners and sprinters produced some excellent times and super competitive races.


With lively music belting out over the PA system, aircraft taking off from the airfield next door and the occasional F18 fighter jet screaming past, and T-shirts being fired into the audience from a 'T-shirt Cannon', plus a Brooks "Hook A Runner Up" tent that I didn't dare venture into, the Brooks PR Invitational is definitely a teenage affair. 


But these teenagers ran like adults. Canny race tactics that we would expect to see in Diamond League meets were employed, with these boys and girls looking like seasoned professionals, as the races unfolded.


Take the Girl's 2 mile for example. It turned into a classic front-runner vs. sit-and-kick race. Bethan Knights (Northwood HS, Irvine, CA) sprinted off at the start and soon opened up a sizeable gap of 100m. 


The big question was, could she hold her lead or would she crash? Hannah DeBalsi (Staples HS, CT) progressively whittled the lead down and finally gathered Bethan in with 300m left, to open a small lead of 2m. Everyone thought it was a done deal, in DeBalsi's favor, but Knight uncorked a gutsy sprint over the final 80m to regain her hard earned lead, which she held to the finish in a new National Record of 9:53.54 to DeBalsi's 9:55.05, itself a Soph class record. 


The Boy's 2 Mile was equally as exciting. Any runners in the lead pack looked like a strong contender in the first 6 laps, but it was Grant Fisher's (Grand Blanc HS, MI) blitzkrieg sprint over the final 200m that settled the matter convincingly. His final lap of 61 secs was superbly controlled, giving him a 4-second win in 8:51.28 over Steven Fahy's (La Costa Canyon, CA) 8:55.24. Any HS 2-mile race with 8 finishers below 9 minutes is impressive.


Devante Lacey's (Klein Oak, TX) 46.74 was a class above the rest of the field in the Boy's 400m, as he went smoothly away from Ricky Morgan (Forest Park, VA) down the home straight, who finished second in 47.28. 


Likewise Olivia Baker (Columbia, NJ) completely dominated the Girl's 400m (53.26) over Madeline Price (Menlo HS, CA), who came in second in 54.54. 


And speaking of dominators: Christian Coleman (our Lady of Mercy, GA) won the Boy's 100m in 10.29 with a lot of daylight between him and second placed Terry Jernigan (East Ridge, FL) in 10.41. 


The Boy's 800m promised to be a fast 2-lapper with all ten starters having season's best times between Charles Jones's (Cardinal Ritter, MO) 1:50.2 and Jeramey Hampton's (North Gwinnett, GA) 1:51.9. 


Jones took the lead from the start, losing it at the end of the first lap in a minor fracas as he was pushed aside by another runner trying to slide through on the inside. Jones regained his lead position from 380m to 500m, only to relinquish it again with 300m to go. 


Fortunes changed dramatically down the home straight--as they often do in the 800m--with Derek Holdsworth (Lafayette, VA) unleashing a strong sprint over the final 90m to win convincingly in 1:49.98. Myles Marshall (Kingwood, TX) moved through into second in 1:51.02, and Robert Ford (Johnson, TX) followed closely into third in 1:51.17.


All eyes were on Washington State Junior prodigy Alexa Efraimson (Camas HS) on the start line in the Girl's 800m. Following closely in Mary Cain's footsteps, figuratively speaking, Efraimson demonstrated that she has the strength and moxie to hold excellent form throughout the entire distance, with her win. 


With a first lap in 60 seconds, a fast time look likely. Alexa moved smoothly into the lead half way along the back straight and won going away from the field in 2:03.26, to win by almost 3 seconds from Hannah Parker (Coe-Brown, NH) and fellow Washingtonian Rose Christen (Central Kitsap) in 2:06.35.


The Mile races were the final events. Sarah Feeney (Ogden, UT) made the pace right from the gun in the Girl's Mile and led through lap 1 (72), lap 2 (2:19), and lap 3 (3:29). By the second lap a group of 3 had detached themselves from the strewn-out field, while Feeney pulled further and further away, to a lead of 25m. 


Feeney finished strongly to win in 4:39.42, from Katie Rainsberger (Air Academy, CO) 4:41.07, and Anna Maxwell (San Lorenzo Valley, CA) in 4:44.07. Feeney will join the University of Utah team in the fall.


The Boy's Mile featured runners with current best times between 4:06 and 4:12.9. The fast early pace (1st lap, 61) spread the field over 15m, with Josh Evans (Linn-Mar, IA) leading the field from Armstrong (Brea Olinda, CA) and Maton (Summit, OR). 


The half-mile was a snappy 2:02, and the ¾ mile was passed in 3:06, with the field spread out over 30m by lap 3. The lead bunch of 9 gathered for the final kick, after the bell, with Tamagno (Brea Olinda, CA), Maton, Khosla (Leon, FL)  and Evans looking dangerous--and then it all started at 270m. 


Maton poured it on down the home straight to hold off Tamagno and Evans, who seemed to find some reserve gas in the tank, in a spirited race that had the crowd on the edge of its collective seat. 


The Brooks PR Invitational once again proved its value to HS runners trying to capitalize on their post-season fitness, and provides a proving ground for a marvelous pool of young up-and-coming talent. 

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