The first installment of the Brooks PR Invitational more than lived up to its promise of delivering quality times, numerous Personal Records (PRs) and exciting races. Had there been an questions about what would be witnessed at the Dempsey Indoor track on the University of Washington campus in Seattle Deserea Bryant of Wisconsin answered them by storming out of the blocks and blasting across the finish line with a brilliant time of 7.26, which is not only the fastest time of the year but the #5 ranking in US prep history. Olivia Ekpone placed second in 7.46, which is the third fastest time of the year, while Hannah Cunliffe of nearby Federal Way, and ran 7.55. Cunliffe had set the all-time freshman mark of 7.47 last week at Simplot. Damiere Byrd claimed the young men’s version of the event with a brisk 6.70 to edge Marvin Bracy, who ran 6.75. Jerimy Strainge was clocked in 6.80 for third.
The girls’ Two Mile was another race, which was run early and produced leading times for the season. The only problem here was that the competition was so keen, that a strong time may not have equated to a great place. Wesley Frazier was probably the most dominant runner in the race with her race seemingly always at or near the front, yet she always had plenty of company including Erin Finn. Allison Woodward of Wisconsin & Molly Grabill of the San Diego area normally patrolled third or fourth but there was the proverbial ‘cast of thousands’, which loomed nearby leaving great speculation as to how the event might unfold. Haley Pierce of Delaware briefly made it appear that she might make the race her but even going into the last lap it there were still a number of runners, who still had legitimate chances to win. Kayla Beattie made a charge and stormed into the lead with what seemed to be the winning move, yet Frazier roared back off the final turn. The end results saw Frazier triumphant with a time of 10:17.47, as she edged Beattie, who finished with 10:17.93. Erin Finn placed third with 10:19.28, while Allison Woodward & Haley Pierce earned the next two spots with times of 10:20.18 & 10:20.34. Such was the quality of the field, that it is believable, that most participants would have gladly taken their times and assume the place would take care of itself nicely. Molly Grabill ran 10:23 to secure sixth & will soon head to Spain to represent the US in the US World Junior XC championships. Joanna Thompson of Knoxville, Julia Foster of Albuquerque & Katie Knight of Spokane all broke 10:30 & Erika Fleuhr barely missed. This was a national championship caliber field!
Ammar Moussa controlled the boys’ version of the race with splits of 3:28 for 1200M & 4:26 for the mile, yet he still had a battle with Matt Jablonski before pulling a way to a victory in a time of 9:00.62. Marylander Jablonski secured second with a fine 9:02.51 and Thomas Graham edged his fellow North Carolinian Scott Morgan by .85 seconds with his time of 9:04.14. Jacob Smith of Wenatachee, Wa. continued his string of stellar races with a 5th place effort clocked in 9:05.20. Empire State runner Eddie Owens edged Vince Hamilton of Spokane with his sixth place finish of 9:08.59, while sophomore Andrew Gardner had a fine time of 9:09.47.
The girls’ 400M witnessed three runners break 55 seconds, when Courtney Okioo of Texas ran 54.26 to edge Kendall Baisden of Michigan (54.31) & Calgary’s Sage Watson (54.58). Akawkaw Ndipagbor of California finished fourth despite running 55.44. The guys did their part to continue the fine times but Arman Hall led the way with his time of 47.45. If one looked purely at the times, one have thought they were watching an impressive outdoor race as the Floridian Hall had three runners behind him all break 49 seconds. Mike Newton of Georgia ran 48.52 and was followed closely by Nolan Mayhew of Texas (48.55) & Sean Sutton of Maryland (48.89).
If the 800 Meters was your cup of tea, the times were hardly tepid there too and Jenna Westaway of Calgary made sure of it by rolling through the first 400 meters in 61.1. It appeared she would throttle the field, as she had the week before at Simplot, when she led virtually all the way, but Shelby Houlihan of Iowa had other ideas. She closed quickly during the last lap & then pulled away to a solid victory in a time of 2:08.59. Westaway followed her in 2:11.04 & Baylee Mires of Spokane finished next in 2:12.95. Miles was thrilled with her time & noted that due to cold weather she was behind in her training. Mires, who will run for the University of Washington next year, finished almost two seconds ahead of Kim Mackay (2:14.75) of N.Y. The guys’ 800M featured a fast first split of 51.48 and Keffri Neal of Surrey, BC took advantage of it to place first in a 1:50.92 clocking. Nick Kaiser claimed second with 1:52.25 to edge Kyle Thompson (1:5269). Sean Grumney of California placed 4th & led the trio of runners, who ran 1:53 & change.
The closest finish of the day was witnessed in the Boys’ 60 Meter Hurdles, where three runners crossed the line in a blanket finish and to the eye were inseparable. Torrey Campbell received the nod at the end and the Floridian was credited with a time of 7.82. Demetrius Lindo followed as closely as possible with a time of 7.83. The DC runner in turn barely edged Jonathan Cabral of California, who was timed in 7.85. The girls’ event was annexed by Kendell Williams of Georgia who nipped Melia Cox of California 8.44 to 8.49. Right behind the duo were Dior Hall (8.55) and Chelsea Davis (8.59).
In anticipation of some fireworks the Mile races were moved to the end of the card and neither disappointed. Joelle Amaro of New Jersey led early and opened up a good ten meter gap over the field. Ajee Wilson of Neptune, N. J. led a chase pack of six runners, which included local star Maddie Meyers. Meyers spent most of the race boxed in a group that consisted of Kelsey Margey of NY, Shannon Osika of Michigan, Eleanor Fulton of Colorado, Katrina Coogan of New Hampshire and Amy-Eloise Neale of Snohomish, Washington. Amaral led through the 800 in 2:21 and shortly after the pack, led by Wilson, began to reel her back a bit. The real racing began with about two laps to go, when Wilson & Neale took control of the race. Wilson led coming off the final turn and Neale closed down the stretch, yet could not quite overtake Wilson, who won in a solid time of 4:49.48. Amy-Eloise was clocked in 4:49.58, a PR, and Joelle Amaro held on for third and was credited with a time of 4:52.32. Kelsey Margey claimed fourth with 4:52.46 and Shannon Osika took fifth with 4:53.64. Eleanor Fulton (4:53.65), Katrina Coogan (4:54.55) and Maddie Meyers (4:54.64) rounded off the top eight.
There was a very different race in the young men’s mile, as Californians Jantzen Oshier & Elias Gedyon broke away early and waged a race-long duel. Oshier led the way through the 800 in 2:07 and they both accelerated after that point. The gap between the duo and the chase pack would widen the rest of the way as they raced the next 400M in around 60 seconds to reach the 1200 in 3:07. Surprisingly they did not back off that pace & probably even increased it a bit. Oshier had opened a slight lead but off the final turn Gedyon surged to Oshier’s shoulder and for a brief moment it seemed he could overhaul the leader, but Oshier had something in reserve and held Elias at bay. They both crossed the line essentially together with Oshier getting the nod with 4:07.52 to his rival’s 4:07.58. Miles Schoedler of New Jersey led the pack with his third place time of 4:11.42 and Blake Williams garnered 4th with 4:13.96. Kenji Bierig, the 2011 Washington State champion in XC, fifth with a 4:14.33 clocking. New York’s Tim Luthin followed with 4:14 and the trio of Omar Kaddurah of Michigan, Ryan Pickering of Florida & Casey Adams of Spokane were all credited with versions of 4:16 & change. Each runner mentioned here all ran their personal bests. It was that kind of day.