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Two 5,000m Meet Records at New Balance Nationals

FRAZIER, LEINGANG SET 5000M RECORDS
ON DAY ONE AT NEW BALANCE NATIONALS

By Chris Lotsbom

(c) Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(Used with permission)
 

GREENSBORO,
N.C. (14-June) — The first day of New Balance Nationals Outdoors here,
the American national championships for
high school athletics, ended
with remarkable record runs over 5000m by North Carolina’s Wesley
Frazier and North Dakota’s Jake Leingang. Both seniors timed meet
records of 15:55.94 and 14:11.61, respectively. Frazier’s national
title –her fourth at the meet in the past two years– makes her one of
the most decorated athletes in high school athletics history.

Under
the lights of North Carolina A&T’s Aggie Stadium, Frazier became
the first girl in meet history to break 16 minutes for 5000m in what
played out to be a hunter/hunted race. While West Bloomfield, Mich.’s
Erin Finn took the pace out blisteringly fast –much like she did at
New Balance Nationals Indoors three months ago– Frazier decided to
hold back and let her go, taking on the hunter role.

“I felt
the pace was kind of fast at the beginning, too fast,” said the smiling
Frazier, holding a piece of the finishing tape in her hand. “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. At one point in the first half,
Finn held close to a ten meter lead on Frazier.

Though behind
by three seconds at two miles (3218m), Frazier slowly but surely began
to reel in the tiring Finn, just as she did at New Balance Nationals
Indoors.

“I just watched where she was,” said Frazier, who came
up on Finn’s shoulder at the ten minute mark of the race. “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 hers.

“It’s
always good to win and run here,” said Frazier, who would break the
finishing tape with hands above her head in 15:55.94. “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 dejected, finished second in
16:17.89. Following the awards ceremony, Finn said that she was
disappointed with her race before excusing herself from the interview
with tears in her eyes.

Frazier’s winning mark ranks as #5 on
the all-time USA high school list, and was extra special considering
Aggie Stadium is Frazier’s home track of sorts; the Duke-bound Frazier
resides in Raleigh, about 70 miles away.

Frazier will return to
Aggie Stadium’s blue track Saturday and Sunday, when she runs the
Championship Two Mile and Mile. She’ll need to do whatever she can to
recover, quickly.

“I’ll sit on two bags of ice for the ride home,” said Frazier.

In
the Boys 5000m, reigning champion Jake Leingang successfully defended
his title with a 14:11.61 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.

Despite
what looked to be a loaded field entering the race, no one gave
Leingang much of a challenge. The only athlete to follow in his
slipstream for part of the race was Illinois’s Jack Keelan.

“Going
into it I knew some of the guys had run very fast times. I was looking
at it just like any other race, that they are going to be with me,”
said Leingang. Ultimately, he would win with a 17-second cushion,
setting a meet record in the process.

“I couldn’t ask for a
better night under the lights,” said Leingang, who shaved more than 13
seconds from Edward Cheserek’s previous meet mark of 14:25.74. “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.”

Ohio’s
Nicholas Elswick placed second in 14:28.73, with New Balance Nationals
Indoor champion Elijah Armstrong third in 14:28.97. Keelan wound up
finishing fourth.

Friday’s competition was made up of mostly
Emerging Elite and Freshman events, with championship sections coming
up Saturday and Sunday.

One performance worth noting came in
the Junior High Girls Mile, where Texan Julia Heymach ran away with the
victory. Her winning time of 5:03.50 is very good considering she is
not even in high school yet.

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