2012 Brooks PR Invitational, the Complete Story: Bringing down the House, by Larry Eder

Blocks at Dempsey, courtesy of Brooks Running

The truth is, it all begins with running, jumping and throwing. Two weeks ago, one of the guys who got that the most,  passed away. He knew that the battle for footwear supremacy, is a battle done best, talking about the sport, and selling one pair of footwear at a time. It is a seemingly simple fact, but only the successful brands really get it, really live it, really breathe it. 

Any brand that is true to running, does something to give back to the sport. It is part of their soul.  That is why Brooks Running does the Brooks PR invitational. This is how this brand gives back to the sport. At Runblogrun, we hit over 30 events a year to celebrate and recognize what our sport is about. In the end, six kids putting a chalk line on one end of a basket ball court and racing to the other, constitutes a pretty good race. It is all about movement.

On Sunday, February 26, 2011, Brooks sponsored their second Brooks PR invitational, over 60m, 60 m hurdles, 400m, 800m, mile and two mile. 120 athletes, 26 states plus Canada, and a 1000 fans. What an afternoon. Here is how I saw it!
Brooks PR Invitational, Feb. 26, 2012

Updated March 1, 2012 (new photos)

The Brooks PR Invitational is Brooks' way of giving back to the sport that gives it's business life: running. In this case, Brooks' sports marketing manager, Jesse Williams, came up with this bright idea a year ago: what if you invite the fastest high schoolers in the country, bring them to a very fast track, and let them see how fast they can go? With the help of many from the Brooks company, the Brooks PR invitational was born.

"This is how we give back to the sport. I love the event." noted Brooks president, Jim Weber. Weber was seen walking around Dempsey stadium, smiling at the crowd and the excitement of the event.

The Dempsey stadium is a positive sanctuary of our sport, celebrating track & field during the indoor season, giving the Northwest running community a place to run, jump and throw indoors.

The team at Flotrack.org did a live webcast of the event, giving runners and fans all over the country, a chance to see the Brooks PR invitational for 2012. And what they got to see was tremendous!

60 meter hurdles

Girls: Dior Hill sets meet record

The event was hopping from the qualifying on! In the girls 60m hurdles, Kendell Williams won the first heat, hurdling a fine 8.42. In the second heat, Dior Hill got down to business and hurdled a fine 8.32!

Coming back in the final, Dior Hill hurdled the 60m hurdles in a fine 8.28! How fine? Well, Dior is now the Brooks PR Invitational Meet record holder with her fine 8.28. In second was Lateisha Philson, hurdling 8.36. Kendell William was third in 8.39 and Skylar Ross-Ransom, who ran 8.50. It should be noted that the winner, Dior Hill, is only a sophomore (from Denver, Colorado).

Section 1, Finals

Dior Hill, 8.28, 2. Lateisha Philson, 8.36, 3. Kendell Williams, 8.39, 4. Skylar Ross-Ransom, 8.50

Section 2, Finals

1. Jordan Mumford, 8.68, Deshaunda Morrison, 8.73, Daje Pugh, 8.74

Boys: Donovan Robertson just hurdles to high school record

Brooks PR Invite 60MH 2.jpgBoys 60m hurdles, Brooks PR 2012, photo by Brooks Running

The heats of the Boys 60 meter hurdles opened fast. Jordan Moore won heat 1, in 7.75, with Devon Allen (7.83), Jonathan Jones (7.92) and Marlon Humphrey (8.20), also moving on.

In heat two, Dondre Echols hurdled 7.76, with Donovan Robertson hurdling 7.79, Bruce Barclay hurdling 7.95 and Randy Berma hurdling 8.05.

The sixty meter hurdles is the shortest hurdle race in track and field. The key, like all hurdle races, is to combine the attributes of a sprinter and fine hurdler. Precision is the name of the game. A good start is the dream, but that is way beyond some high schoolers (heck, it's beyond some professionals).

The final was a completely different race. Donovan Robertson, who had finished second in the second heat, just crushed the fields. Getting a strong start, Donovan sprinted and hurdled, sprinted and hurdled, kind of like a breaking action, and getting one's back side so close to the top of the hurdle that they are on the same plane.

Robertson ran really fast, he also hurdled really well. Combining those two disparate skills, Donovan ran 7.57!  That was three records in one race: A new high school record for the U.S., a new Dempsey stadium record and a new Brooks PR invitational record!
On a track know for very fast middle distance times, Donovan Robertson put Dempsey on the map for very fast hurdling!

Section 1, Finals

Donovan Robertson, 7.57, HSR, 2. Dondre Echols, 7.79, 3, Devon Allen, 7.80, 4. Jonathan Jones, 7.80, 5. Jordan Moore, 7.91

Section 2, Finals

1. Marlon Humphrey, 7.89, Bruce Barclay, 7.91, Randy Bermea, 8.23

60 meter dash

Brooks PR Invite Girls 60M.jpgBrooks PR 60 meters, photo courtesy of Brooks Running


The shortest sprint on the indoor schedule (sometimes, there's a 50), and there were some fireworks here as well.

In heat one, Shayla Sanders sprinted to a fine 7.26, with Gabriele Gray in 7.55 and Kennadi Bouyerin 7.57.

In heat two, Jennifer Madu ran 7.31 to Myasia Madu's 7.34. Kali Davis-White's 7.44, Marybeth Sant's 7.45. Deena Hill ran 7.79.

The final was all Shayla Sanders, a senior from Pompano Beach, Florida. Shayla got out well and just burned up the track, running 7.21, missing the girls high school record for the 60 meters by .02 of a second! Jennifer Madu was second in 7.36, with Myasia Jacobs in third in 7.40.

Section 1, Finals

Shayla Sanders, 7.21, 2. Jennifer Madu, 7.36, 3. Myasia Jacobs, 7.40, 4. Kali Davis-White, 7.48, 5. Marybeth Sant, 7.48

Section 2, Finals

Gabrielle Gray, 7.46, 2. Hannah Cunliffe, 7.48, Destinee Gause, 7.50, 4. Kennadi  Bouyer, 7.58, 5. Deanna Hill, 7.74.


Levonte Whitfield showed how fast one could run on the Dempsey straights, sprinting a fine 6.71, for the national leader! Tatum Taylor ran the same time as Levonte, with a fine 6.71 as well. In third, Leshon Collins ran 6.74! Kendell Williams, in fourth, ran 6.81 and Cameron Burrell ran 6.84.

In the second final, Marcus Harris ran a fine 6.83. Isaiah Brandt-Sims ran a fine 6.83 as well in that photo-finish. Khalfnai Muhammed ran 6.89 and Damian Greene ran 7.00.

In just two years, the 60 meter dash and the 60 meter hurdles at Brooks PR have drawn some attention! 

400 meters

The human body, in perfect condition, can run all out for about 30-35 seconds. For the best athletes, male or female, that is 250-300 meters. So, the 400 meter dash is a lesson in evolution. He or she who can economize, using their energy sparingly over the first 100 meters, increasing the pace over the second 200 meters, maintaining when others are dying over the third 100 meters, and endure the agony of lactic acid overload in the last hundred meters, can be a successful 400 meter runner. The 400 meters, quite simply (perhaps, too simply), is about managing energy. The more exacting the management, the more successful the 400 meter runner is. 


Courtney Okolo went out hard and did not let up, winning the first section of the 400 meters in 53.21. Precious Holmes pursued Okolo, running 53.53 for second, with Sage Watson taking third in 54.05 and Sydnee Over, running 55.61 for fourth.

In the second section, Felcia Brown ran a fine 53.53, all by her lonesome. In second, Ariah Graham ran 54.72 and Amy Weissenbach, who I believe is a top 800 meter runner, ran 57.40. (We interviewed her at the World Junior Games in July in Lille, France). 

So, how good was Courtney Okolo's 53.21? The senior from Carrolton, Texas set a new Dempsey Stadium record and a new Brooks PR Invitational record. Courtney is also the first Brooks PR champion to not only defend her title, but also break her own meet record by a second!


Wow. This was some 400 meter racing. Najee Glass got out hard, and Aldrich Bailey was in hot pursuit. Ayrian Evans was not far off the pace, which I estimated as 22.2 when they hit the 200 meter mark. Najee Glass just kept pushing and Aldrich Bailey inched closer and closer, as both leant at the perfect time. The nanosecond that separated them: Glass winning in 46.06, and Bailey in second in 46.07, was historic-as Glass and Bailey had just run the second and third fastest times for high school boys in history. Ayrian Evans was third in 47.86 and Marcus Chambers was fourth in 49.07.
Najee Glass not only set the Brooks PR invitational record, he also ran the fastest time EVER for men in the Dempsey Stadium for 400 meters, setting a new stadium record.

Obviously, Najee Glass has run the fastest 400m time for high school boys in 2012, and Aldrich Bailey has the number two time in the country over 400 meters for 2012!

Section 1

Najee Glass, 46.06, MR, SR, #1 US, 2. Aldrich Bailey, 46.07, #2 US, 3. Ayrian Evans, 47.86, 4. Marcus Chambers, 49.07

Section 2

Isaiah Duke, 47.97, 2. Michael Newton, 48.16, 3. Adolphus Gray, 50.03

800 meters


Cami Chapus, a senior from Los Angeles,  one of the top milers in the country in 2011, and senior, went out close to the front, grabbed the lead just after 400 meters and did not let go! A simple, yet devestating tactic. Battling with Jenna Westaway and Kellie Davis, Chapus just put the peddle to the proverbial metal, and she charged straight to the finish line, winning in 2:10.69. Jenna Westaway took second in 2:12.47, and Kellie Davis was third, in 2:12.89.

1. Cami Chapus, 2:10.69, 2. Jenna Westaway, 2:12.47, 3. Kellie Davis, 2:12.89, 4. Morgan Dampier, 2:13.11, 5. Kaela Edwards, 2:13.83, 6. Reagan Anderson, 2:14.03, 7. Rachel Paul, 2:14.76, 8. Anna Boyert, 2:16.16, 9. Taylor Hatfield, 2:23.11, Savannah Camacho, NT


Brooks PR Invite 2.jpg2012 Brooks PR Boy's 800 meters, photo by Brooks Running

This race was a horse race. The field was together through 200 meters, 400 meters, and 600 meters. And, the race began. Tyler Smith gutted it out, falling just past the finish, running a fine 1:51.83. Not far behind him was Nick Boersma, who ran 1:53.12.
Zavon Watkins, who has been running miles all season, ran 1:53.69. With six under 1:54 and 8 under 1:56. Pretty good for this early in the season! Oh, and Tyler Smith is from Wetaskiwin, Canada, eh!

1. Tyler Smith, Canada, 1:51.83, 2. Nick Boersma, 1:53.12, 3. Zavon Watkins, 1:53.69, 4. Nick Hartle, 1:53.80, 5. Matthew Swanson, 1:53.84, 6. Cameron Thornton, 1:53.91, 7. Danny Tarango, 1:54.39, 8. Tre'Tez Kinniaird, 1:55.49, 9. Quamel Prince, 1:56.67, 10. Will Drinkwater,1:56.79, 11. Hector Hernandez, 1:57.74, 12. Alex Waddell, 1:58.59


Brooks PR Invite 1 Mile.JPG2012 Brooks PR Boy's Mile, photo by Brooks Running

The mile is still, a classic distance. Someone can talk about a 3:35 for 1,500 meters and one knows it is fast, but when someone talks about a 3:53 mile (the equivalent of a 3:35 for 1,500 meters), we all know that it is fast.

The first person who broke four minutes for the mile was Sir Roger Bannister, on May 6, 1954, at Iffley Road, near Oxford. He and his training partners, Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, picked the windy day to do it, and winds died a bit. Bannister knew he had one shot, as Wes Santee in the US had come close and John Landy, the Australian star, was on his way to Scandinavia to make his attempt. Brasher and Chataway paced Bannister, but with 300 meters to go, he was all on his own. He wrote, quite eloquently, how he gave that last three hundred meters all of the energy that he possessed, hoping to get his goal. 

In his book, the First Four Minutes, Bannister thought he had broken the record, but it was not until he hear from the time keeper, done by his friend Norris McWhirter (who later founded the Guiness Book of world records, with his twin brother Ross), that he had actually run 3:59.4. (Brooks trivia: Former Brooks Prez, Tom Carmody was at Oxford day of the mile race).

The mile is one of the major events for American high school distance runners still, and the two races here were magical. Whether you are shooting for five minutes, six minutes, four minutes, or, somewhere in between, the mile is magical. In Dempsey, on Sunday evening, the mile showed its magic once again. 


With eleven runners in this race, it was going to be a mass finish. Hannah Meier made the race honest, hitting 69, 2:22 for the early pacing. The pack was close, but Meier made a break and Amy-Eloise Neale, Haley Meier, Carmen Carlos and Nikki Hiltz continued the pursuit.

At about 1,100 meters, Hannah Meier looked fatigued. Could she hold on? Amy-Eloise Neale looked to be the giant buster. With a lap to go, Amy-Eloise Neal came up on Meier's shoulder and it looked like Neale would grab the win, but, it was not to be.

Hannah Meier held Amy-Eloise Neale off for the entire last lap, and eeked out a one second victory, running 4:43.28, breaking the Brooks PR meet record by six seconds, and bringing the top four under the 4:49.48 that was the previous record. With ten women under 4:57, this was one of the deepest, if not deepest indoor miles for high school girls of the year!  

After the race, on the award stands, Hannah spoke for everyone when she said how much fun it was to race here and how fun it was to race very, very fast! (Oh, and of course, Hannah's mile effort is the number 1 time in nation for 2012!).

1. Hannah Meier, 4:43.28, MR, 2. Amy-Eloise Neale, 4:44.03, 3. Haley Meier, 4:48.10, 4. Carmen Carlos, 4:48.28, 5. Nikki Hiltz, 4:50.55, 6. Allison Sturges, 4:53.87, 7. Heather Bates, 4:54.18, 8. Samantha George, 4:54.31, 9. Lily Williams, 4:54.95, 10. Maddie Meyers, 4:56.49, 11. Kelly Lawson, 5:03.61


This mile race could be called the Field of Dreams. Invite the top high school boys in the country, put them on a great track, give them a thousand screaming fans, and of course some drumming (not the milers, a band was playing drums during many of the races), and you are off!

The pack of eleven was together through the half mile hit in 2:04. Marcus Dickson, Jacob Burcham, Craig Nowak, Brandon Kidder and Mike Marsella were all within striking distance.

Jacob Burcham had a small lead, as he had earlier in several races this season, and he showed real guts giving it his all. Marcus Dickson was right with him, as Jacob Burcham, Craig Nowak and Brandon Kidder dropped back just a bit.

The race was between Jacob Burcham and Marcus Dickson, who kept charging as they hit the final turn, fighting for every inch of track. It looked like Burcham had the lead as they came to the finish line, but with a small burst, Marcus Dickson prevailed, running 4:07.18 to Jacob Burcham's 4:07.20, both under the previous Brooks PR meet record.

Later that evening, I was able to meet Jacob Burcham. " I was second in the mile," noted Jacob. " I know." said I. " I have lost several races like that, very close, to the finish." he commented. " You just have to keep at, it, you will win one soon."

1. Marcus Dickson, 4:07.18, 2. Jacob Burcham, 4:07.20, 3. Craig Nowak, 4:08.29, 4. Brannon Kidder, 4:09.11, 5. Mike Marsalla, 4:10.54, 6. Cale Wallace, 4:12.00, 7. CJ Albertson, 4:12.29, 8. Justin Brinkley, 4:13.24, 9. Billy Gaudreau, 4:14.25, 10. Korey Krotzer, 4:16.15, 11.Trevor Gilley, 4:18.79

Two Mile

The two mile is another classic distance. Up until twenty years ago, that was the longest race on the high school scene. It is still a classic distance, and is the longest race on the Brooks PR schedule.


Erin Finn is fearless. She took off, from the start of the race, to make the pace fast. And she did. Hitting 1,200 meters in 3:51 and the mile mark in 5:10, this was a honest two mile pace. Meet record holder Wesley Frasier was in the race, running well. Behind Erin, was Haley Pierce and Molly Siedel. Last year the pace was so fast and the field so close that the top places could change, based on a final kick over the last 300 meters. And, again it did. With 400 meters to go, Haley Pierce, Molly Siedel went by Erin Finn, who was not giving up.

The pace was very fast, in fact, it was negative splits: first mile in 5:10 and second in 5:03 for the winner!
Molly Seidel, a junior from Hartland, Wisconsin, in the first track race of her year, went by Haley Pierce, to not only break the meet record, but run the fastest girls two mile in the nation! Her 10:13.45 gave her first. Haley Pierce held on for second in 10:14.54, Erin Finn held on for third in 10:18.82, and Wesley Frazier finished in fourth in 10:21.07.

A great two mile, and continuing the tradition of fast two miles, with sixth place at 10:28.50!

Congrats again to Molly Seidel, who has used cross country skiing, and snow shoe running to get herself into shape for this race. Obviously, alternative training does work. Let it snow!

1. Molly Seidel, 10:13.45, 2. Haley Pierce, 10:14.54, 3. Erin Finn, 10:18.82, 4. Wesley Frazier, 10.21.07, 5. Brianna Nerud, 10:24.86, 6. Katie Knight, 10:28.50, 7. Taylor Manett, 10:49.44, 8. Chandler Olson, 10:49.46, 9. Emma Abrahamson, 10:50.80, Shanoah Souza, DNF.


Fourteen high school boy runners line up, fourteen finish under 9:18.30. Pretty impressive race! The pace was fast and consistent, hitting the mile in 4:36, and a pack of eleven still in it!

With 400 meters to go, there were five in the game: Tony Smorageiwicz, Jonah Diaz, Darren Fahey, Jake Leingang and Daniel Vertiz.

With 200 meters to go, Vertiz, Leingang and Fahy were all together, with Vertiz starting to make a move. Leingang and Fahey were fighting with all that they had, as the three runners came off the last straight.

Daniel Vertiz got the edge and just hammered it home, running 8:59.15. Jake Leingang was second, running 8:59.66 and Darren Fahey was third in 9:01.63. But, it did not stop there, with five under 9:05, 8 under 9:08.29, 11 under 9:15.59 and 14 under 9:18.30!

After the race, Daniel did not know how fast he had run. Then, an official came by and noted, "under nine minutes". There was joy in Fairfield, CT.

1. Daniel Vertiz, 8:59.15, 2. Jake Leingang, 8:59.66, 3. Darren Fahey, 9:01.63, 4. Jonah Diaz, 9:03.44, 5. Tony Smorageiwicz, 9:04.18, 6. Luis Luna, 9:07.83, 7. Kevin Bishop, 9:07.88, 8. Thomas Graham, 9:08.29, 9. Andrew Gardner, 9:12.18, 10. Danny Martinez, 9:12.37, 11. Conner Rog, 9:15.59, 12. Anthony Armstrong, 9:17.12, 13. Izaic Yorks, 9:17.66, 14. Craig Engels, 9:18.30.

To see all the videos on the Brooks PR and see full results, please click here: Brooks PR

Special thanks to the Brooks staff, the Officials, the fans, and most of all, the athletes, who made the second Brooks PR invitational so special. See you in 2013! Thanks to Jesse Williams and Tiffany Herman for all of their help.

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