The New Balance Nationals are, in fact, the outdoor high school championships for track and field. The care and attention to detail that New Balance and the NSAF put into the meet is what draws the best athletes year after year.
One example of that is that Chris Lotsbom, the Race Results Weekly associate editor, provides well written, thoughtful pieces on the NBN and NBI each year, giving our readers a birds eye view into one of the most important events in our sport!
photo courtesy of New Balance Nationals
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FOUR MEET RECORDS OPEN DAY ONE OF NEW BALANCE NATIONALS
By Chris Lotsbom
GREENSBORO, NC, USA (14-June) — Competition kicked off with a bang here at New Balance Nationals Outdoor, as four meet records fell by the wayside on the first day of Championship competition in Greensboro, North Carolina. High school senior Wesley Frazier became the first girl in meet history to break 16 minutes for 5000m, while a pair of Swedish Medley Relay marks were bettered on a beautiful day for track and field. To conclude the evening, Jake Leingang of North Dakota broke the Boys 5000m meet record.
A race for the ages played out in the Girls 5000m, where the North Carolina native Frazier earned yet another national crown — her fourth in the past two years. While West Bloomfield, Mich.’s Erin Finn took the pace out blisteringly fast –timing 3:09.63 for the first 1000 meters– Frazier decided to hold back and let her go, just as she did at March’s New Balance Nationals Indoor in New York City.
“I felt the pace was kind of fast at the beginning, too fast,” said the smiling Frazier. “Through the first 800 meters I saw about 2:30 on the clock and knew I wasn’t going to run five minute pace so I backed off a little bit.”
Hitting 6:58.81 for 2200 meters, the leading Finn was well ahead of Ashley Erba’s meet record pace of 16:18.21. Though behind by three seconds at two miles, Frazier slowly but surely began to reel in the tiring Finn, just as she did at New Balance Nationals Indoor.
“I just watched where she was,” said Frazier. “I figured that if I was feeling good in the last half I’d try to see what I could do.”
With just over a kilometer remaining, Frazier made her decisive move, injecting a 75.27-second lap that dropped Finn immediately. With that, the national title was seemingly hers.
“It’s always good to win and run here,” said Frazier, who would break the finishing tape with hands above her head and 15:55.94 reading on the clock. “It’s my last season in high school, the last chance I get so I might as well make the best of it.”
Finn, visibly disappointed, finished second in 16:17.89.
Frazier’s mark ranks as number five on the all-time high school list. The 17-year-old will return to Aggie Stadium’s blue track Saturday and Sunday, when she runs the Championship Two Mile and Mile.
In the Boys 5000m, reigning champion Leingang successfully defended his title with a 14:11.61, meet record performance. Taking the lead within the first kilometer, the 18-year-old from North Dakota was able to separate himself from the chasing field as the race wore on. Ultimately, he would win with a 17 second cushion.
“I couldn’t ask for a better night under the lights,” said Leingang. “I wanted to take it out and see what I could do. I felt pretty good the whole race and couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Earlier in Day One of competition, both the Boys and Girls Swedish Medley Relay meet records were broken. North Carolina’s own Jr. Striders Track and Field Club and Virginia’s Western Branch TC ran their way onto the podium’s top spot by breaking away in the 300m and 400m legs.
When Jr. Striders’ Tyra Lea passed the baton to anchor Tiana Patillo, the senior had a comfortable lead on the field. Over her 400m leg, Patillo kept pushing the pace, knowing that the meet record of 2:10.28 was within reach. What she didn’t know was that no other teams were close behind.
“In the back of my head somewhere it was telling me that a girl was right on me so I kept running fast,” said Patillo laughing.
With the national title in her pocket, Patillo surged down the homestretch. Crossing the line in 2:08.98, the quartet of Jasmine Moore, Ama-Selina Tchume, Lea, and Patillo had shaved more than a second off the previous meet best.
“I’m glad I kept pushing. It’s great to set a meet record,” said Patillo, smiling at her teammates. Jr. Striders aren’t ready to rest after their meet record and national title, though. They will be racing the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, and Shuttle Hurdle relays over the next two days.
Roughly 15 minutes later, Western Branch took to the track with the Boy’s Swedish Medley Relay meet record of 1:54.46 on their mind. Senior Byron Robinson knew that if the team ran their best, the mark would be obtainable.
“I knew we could, it just depended on how we executed the race,” said Robinson. “Today we were just on it.”
After Daiquan Lawrence ran the opening 100m leg and Rashard McKennelly the 200m, it was Robinson’s turn to extend the lead over Windsor TC (CT) and Union Catholic (NJ). That’s exactly what he did, handing off to anchor Corey Jones with a comfortable margin.
Though Union Catholic –the most successful school at New Balance Nationals Indoor this year– charged hard in the latter stages, it was all Western Branch TC at the finish. Timing 1:53.5, Western Branch TC immediately celebrated their national title and meet record.
“I had tunnel vision,” said Jones. “I had to maintain the lead for my team. It’s great to be national champs.”
Also earning national crowns were Tyler Bard and Annica Penn in the Boys and Girls One Mile Racewalk, respectively. Penn defended her title from last year.
The Championship Octathlon and Heptathlon also got underway on Friday afternoon. Brittany McGee of Florida leads the Girls Heptathlon with 2878 points, while Harrison Williams is on top of the Boys Octathlon standings with 3056 points. Both events will conclude on Saturday.
A number of meet records fell in the Emerging Elite events. Among the winners were Maurice Eaddy and Shakinah Brooks in the Boys and Girls 100m, Ashbrook TC in the Boys 4x100m, and Bauvier Jackson in the Boys Discus. Both the Boys and Girls 4x800m records were broken, as Billerica TC (MA) and Spirit of Pre (MI) won their respective races.
Action continues Saturday, when more than ten national champions will be crowned. Among the featured events are the Championship Two Mile, 110m Hurdles, Javelin, and Triple 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.