By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
GREENSBORO, N.C. (15-Jun) — It took three races in three days and 6.1 miles of hard running, but Ryen Frazier of Raleigh, N.C., can now call herself a national champion. The high school junior took the lead of the girls mile here at New Balance Nationals Outdoor 2014 with roughly 40 meters left, breaking the tape in 4:46.39 and adding another gold medal to the Frazier family collection.
Frazier’s exhausting weekend began on Friday, when she raced the 5000m. Going out aggressively with 2012 Foot Locker Cross Country Champion Anna Rohrer, Frazier paid the price and faded hard, ultimately finishing ninth in 17:15.14.
The bitter taste of Friday’s performance –which Frazier called one of the worst races of her life– lingered into Saturday’s two-mile. Over eight laps Frazier used the 5000m to fuel her fire, ultimately earning All American honors by finishing fourth in 10:25.12.
“I wasn’t originally going to run the two-mile but I decided because of the 5000m [performance] I didn’t want that to be the only race until this,” she said, figuring the two-mile would give her some confidence. “I did well.”
Just like her older sister Wesley a year ago, Frazier returned to Aggie Stadium a third straight day for the mile, Sunday’s premier distance event. While Wesley was a dominant force on the track during her prep career –winning the mile, two mile, and 5000m at last year’s New Balance Nationals Outdoor– a national title had always eluded her sister.
Today, it was Ryen’s turn to shine.
Frazier sat back and was patient through halfway, hit in 2:21.56. Between her adrenaline and the group of girls around her, Frazier was prepared to dig deep.
“It was a little bit tough going into it,” she said. “I thought ‘you got to put all into this.'”
Down the homestretch it was anybody’s race, with three athletes lined up abreast and two a mere step behind. With a gritty grin on her face, Frazier opened her stride while the others tied up, taking the lead with 40 or so meters left. She’d win in 4:46.39.
“I really didn’t know how it was going to end but I knew I had something more. I just tried to seek that in that moment and go with it,” said Frazier, a gold medal draped around her neck.
When asked if she’d continue the Frazier tradition of tripling next year, Ryen offered a nod of the head and a quick yes.
“As far as running all three, if I qualify then I’ll happily run them,” she said.
Like the girl’s race, the boy’s mile featured drama at the finish. However, it involved one athlete in the stands and a handful on the track. Earlier in the day, Connecticut’s Christian Alvarado timed 4:06.88 to win the unseeded section of the mile. With all national titles awarded based on time, Alvarado had to wait and see if his mark would hold up and bring him an All American certificate. Or better yet, a national title.
In the stands close to the finish, Alvarado kept his eye on the clock. When Patrick Gregory won in 4:08.62, Alvarado celebrated with a mixture of relief and excitement. Running onto the infield, he’d collect his All American crown, t-shirt, flowers, and gold medal.
“I can’t even describe the feeling I was so nervous. Every lap I was just praying to God that they weren’t going to beat my time,” Alvarado told Race Results Weekly, a tone of amazement in his voice. “I was probably more nervous for that race than my own race. Once I saw the time wasn’t 4:06 or faster I lost it.”
Texas native Raevyn Rogers ran wire to wire in front of the girls 800m, holding off a furious late charge by New Jersey’s Olivia Baker. Down the backstretch with 250 meters to go, Baker began to chip away at Rogers’s lead, moving up from seventh to second place.
Although Baker kept encroaching in the final straight, it was Rogers taking the win –her second in as many years– in 2:04.88. Baker’s time was 2:06.01.
In the boys 800m, Michigan’s Donovan Brazier came from behind in the closing meters to win in 1:48.61 ahead of New Jersey’s Joseph White (1:48.75). Brazier’s victory was significant considering he’d been stripped of All American honors a day before when he and his Knights TC teammates were disqualified from the 1600m sprint medley relay.
“I knew I could run a time like that because of yesterday,” he said. “We had our crowns on, our [All American] t-shirts on, medals in our hands and they took them away though… I’m super happy [now].”
A day after placing three athletes under 9:00 in the two mile, New York’s Northport TC returned to dominate the 4xMile relay. Justin Leopold, Jack McGowan, Tim McGowan, and Mike Brannigan combined to time 17:21.16, winning by seven seconds. Canton TC, also of New York, claimed the girls 4xMile from the unseeded section in 20:19.84.
Earning distance medley relay wins were West Springfield, Virginia’s girls (11:39.45) and Spirit of Pre, Michigan’s boys (10:03.02). Finishing runner-up to Spirit of Pre was Darien TC of Connecticut, anchored by 5000m champion Alex Ostberg. His FAT split on the relay (approximately 1600m) was 4:06.52.
PHOTO: Ryen Frazier of Raleigh, N.C., after winning the mile at the 2014 New Balance Nationals Outdoor in Greensboro, N.C. (Photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)