By ELLIOTT DENMAN
4XMILE RELAY — At the stroke of 8:30 a.m, nine girls 4 x mile leadoff runners got Day Three of the Nike Outdoor Nationals off to a quick stop.
For eight laps, the result remained in doubt. But when Sam Roecker of Burnt Hills Ballston Spa, NY reeled off 4:55.4 on third leg, it was virtually over.
Sophomore Rachael Cyrus led off the Burnt Hills victory in 5:08.4. Freshman Molly Pezzulo stepped it up to 5:05.2 on mile two. When Roecker was done, it was left to junior anchor Meaghan Gregory to bring it all home in 20:09.87.
A distant second was Newton Centre Athletics in 20:37.51, with the Bromfield School third in 20:40.96. Two more New York teams were next in line — Shenendehowa (20:54.49) and Bronxville (20:56.50.)
Anchor Gregory put it this way: "We had a goal in mind and it feels real good to reach that goal. We are here representing our school and our family and our state — New York State — so this is not just for us."
Added Cyrus: "We don't get the opportunity to run distance relays unless we are at a National meet. It says a lot about our teamwork to come here and win…even though we are not used to running these races."
Second-section winner North Rockland, NY (21:01.71) wound up seventh over-all in the combined 17-team event.
SHORT SPRINT MEDLEY — "This is what we came for, this is what it's all about," exulted Landi Wilson, moments after she'd anchored her Walnut Hills of Cincinnati team to a narrow win over Cincinnati rival Withrow, 1:44.10 to 1:44.51, with the M180 Club team (1:44.90) and Oak Ridge of Orlando, Florida (1:45.09) hard on their heels.
Sophomore Shaunice Fitch (12.5 leadoff 100), junior Taylor Ware (12.0 100), senior Kelly Thomas (25.1 200) and senior Wilson (54.3 anchor 400) did it for Walnut Hills, and made Karl Kaufman a very happy coach.
"We ran third in this event last year, and knew we could do a lot better this time, especially after the Ohio State Meet," said Kaufman.
"We won the 4x200 and 4x400 and our 3:45.89 in the 4x4 was a state record.
"We really worked for this and it all paid off. We're a nice blend of experience and youth, and they really came together, the way a champion team should."
Wilson is bound for the University of South Alabama and Thomas for George Mason University, both on scholarship. But this may be the end of their line in track and field — their scholarships are for soccer.
"Landi is the reason why we won," added Thomas. "She really put it on herself to get us through that race on the anchor leg. She passed four people to win the race over the last 200 meters. It was incredible."
"From the moment I got the stick I knew I had to do something," said Wilson. "I had to get within striking distance before the group got to the home stretch or I wasn't going to be able to catch them. I was sacred I wasn't going to be able to catch them, but it seemed like I kept getting faster and they were slowing down."
2000-METER STEEPLECHASE — "My Mom can't watch this event," Shelby Greany tells you. "She just cringes."
Fortunately, though, the newly crowned NON national steeple champion has a lot more courage than Mom when it comes down to running five laps, clearing barriers and leaping through water jumps.
"First time I ever ran the steeplechase was in seventh grade," she said the Suffern, N.Y. junior after her 6:42.86 triumph.
"I had a sense of adventure, and I guess I liked the water thing. I knew it could be dangerous and I know some coaches don't even let their runners try it.
But that's not me. I really like it a lot, especially now."
For well into the race, this was was a four or five-runner battle.
Then Saratoga Springs, NY's Hannah Davidson (the 2007 NON winner) and Mount Sinai, NY's Nicole Rosario began dropping off the pace. So now it was Greany and Crested Butte, Colorado senior Emma Coburn alone in the front.
It was still either runner's race to win or to lose approaching the final water jump - but Greany took control with a smooth clearance and won it going away.
Greany's 6:42.86 ranks as third best in NON history, trailing only Reno, Nevada's Mel Lawrence (6:35.63 in 2006) and Saratoga Springs's Lindsary Ferguson (6:39.60 in 2005.)
Davidson had beaten Greany for the 2007 crown, 6:43.73 to 6:44.63.
"I kept telling myself, 'I didn't want to be second again, I didn't want to be second,' " Greany said.
"I was definitely not happy with my time, I know I can run a lot better than that. My coach kept telling me, 'don't even look at the clock, time doesn't matter, just go out there and win this thing.' I guess he was right."
Greany was reflective, too.
Last year, over the last 80 meters, I was outkicked," she recalled, with a grimace.
"I refused to let that happen this year. I wanted to control the pace this year. When I wanted to make the pace fast and I was able to. Everyone else had to compete at that pace and that was helpful to me. I ran my own race today."
Coburn settled for second in 6:44.42, with Davidson third in 6:54.69, Orangeburg, NY's Emma Miller-Bedell fourth in 6:55.74, NJ Meet of Champions 1,600 titlist Allison Linnell fifth in 6:56.72, and Rozario sixth in 6:56.93.
It was a race in which experience certainly paid — of the top six, all but Greany, a junior, are seniors. The earlier heat went to Greenbelt, Md.'s Teshika Rivers in 7:15.22.
JAVELIN THROW — You'd never find this in the current record books — quite unfortunately - but the finest, most sensational performance in history of girls high school javelin throwing remains Barbara Friedrich's 198-8 toss for Manasquan, NJ back in 1967, two months before she went on to win the Pan American Games gold medal.
No other high school jav thrower ever approached Friedrich's 198-8, which exited the record books when the specifications of the "old" spear she threw were changed well over a decade ago.
But maybe, just maybe, the nation has someone who'll be ready to reach Friedrich-like distances — OK, with the "new" spear — in the not-too-distant future.
Introducing Hannah Carson — the newly crowned NON champion with a gold-medal throw of 149-3 and a 2008 seasonal best of 167-11.
The first-year student at Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona won by nearly 10 1/2 feet and five of her six tosses bested the top effort of silver medalist Andrea Hopkins of Lake Oswego, Oregon, a 138-10.
Carson unleashed her 149-3 in the very first round and was never challenged.
"My approach has been very good lately and that continued here," Carson said. " I knew if I was doing the things I supposed to be doing that everything was going to be all right."
"I think I can always do better. I'm hard on myself but that is a good thing when you think about it."
New Jerseyans — a state with a proud history, both boys and girls, in the javelin event, occupied three of the next four places — with Wood-Ridge's Shannon Sullivan (138-10), Florham Park's Alexandra Kelly (135-0) and Verona's Emma Tucci (133-8.) Squeezed between Sullivan and Kelly in fourth place was Casey Wagner of Quakake, Pa., fourth at 135-5.
200-METER DASH — Newnan, Ga.'s Chalonda Goodman, NON 100-meter winner Friday night, raced back to Aggie Stadium for a solid, event-leading 23.64 win in her 200-meter prelim. Virginia Beach, Va.'s Marlena Wesh, like Goodman a junior, was number two qualifier at 23.96. It took a 24.44 to make the eight-runner final. Vernon, Ct.'s Chelsea Jubrey just missed at 24.46.
Goodman sizzled again in the eight-runner final, zipping the half-lap in 23.22, in the face of a 1.7 wind-against.
Wesh was her closest rival in 24.18, with Winterville, NC senior Kelsey McKorkle third in 24.20, with Jacksonville, Fla. sophomore fourth at 24.48.
"My start was so much better than it was yesterday in the 100," said Goodman. " I just thought about running the perfect race in mind before I even got into the blocks and that really helped.
"In looking at field, it looked like lanes 5, 6 and 7 were still up there when I hit the middle of the curve. I needed to kick into another gear to accelerate on them and drive off the curve. When I came out of it I had a huge lead."
400-METER DASH — Add the name of Nadonnia Rodrigues to the long roster of superstars developed at Boys and Girls High of Brooklyn.
With a 52.86 one-lap burst, she succeeded Euclid, Ohio's Jessica Beard as queen of the NON 400.
Those are quick footsteps to follow.
Beard, the 2006 (52.04, NON meet record time) and 2007 (52.43) is a major collegiate star these days.
Spanish Fork, Utah's Natalie Stewart (53.07) and Anderson, South Carolina's Briana Nelson (53.46) tracked Rodrigues over the line.
But no one here was close to Sanya Richards' 2002 pace.
Richards (now the Beijing Olympic 400 favorite) continues to hold the national record with her 50.69 in 2002.
It was a tough luck final for English Gardner, the Eastern High School/Voorhees sophomore who'd been third here last year in 54 flat, only to suffer an apparent injury midway through the race and limp home in 1:00.62.
1-MILE RUN — Cleveland Heights, Ohio senior Emily Infeld came in with the nation's third best 2008 mile time — the 4:43.21 she ran at the Penn Relays — and with Californian Christine Babcock (owner of a 4:35.02 best) and fellow Ohioan Stephanie Morgan (the 2007 NON champion who'd run a 4:41.22) sitting this one out, the race was all hers.
Infeld broke away from the pack and was never troubled in a 4:47.43 romp.
Grenvale, NY sophomore Emily Lipari continued to sparkle and delivered a 4:50.24 for the silver medal, tracked home by High Bridge, NJ junior Melanie Thompson (4:50.68) and Lawrenceville, Ga. freshman Amanda Winslow (4:51.13.)
As dominating as she was, Infeld's 4:47.43 was the meet's slowest winning mile in over five years.
400-METER HURDLES — When New Rochelle, NY senior Elizabeth Mott stutter-stepped and nearly went down going over the ninth hurdle, some fans shuddered and feared the worst.
But Mott kept her cool, regained her stride, and went on to 59.96 victory, as the only runner in the 30-athlete field to break one minute.
It was Destiny Lumas, the Fort Worth, Texas junior, who stumbled, fell to the track, and never got up.
The Decatur, Ga. pair of Sonni Austin and Paige Morton, DeKalb County Express Track Club teammates, closed fastest of all to claim the 2-3 spots.
Austin, a junior at Stockbridge, Ga. High, ran 1:01.06 to edge Morton, a senior at Miller Grove, with a 1:01.12.
Rumson-Fair Haven, NJ junior Melissa (Missy) Bellin made a strong late-race move and held second place with two barriers to go. But she couldn't fight off Austin and Morton and wound up fourth in 1:01.67. Still, this was a sensational year for Bellin and the whole Rumson team, which emerged from previous anonymity to share their NJ State group crown and gain national recognition.
"I thought I'd run a better time, but when I hit that hurdle it threw everything off," said Mott, who'd run a national-leading 58.54 winning her New York State sectional title.
New Rochelle High School has had a distinguished track history — its graduates include former world 400-meter record-holder Lou Jones.
NRHS coach Andy Capellan has produced indoor national champions before — but Mott becomes his first-ever outdoor national winner.
"This is going to make coach very, very happy," said the smiling Mott, bound for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a political science major.
FRESHMAN MILE — Northeasterners ruled — Laurelton, Queens, NYC's Claudia Francis (5:02.79) besting Little Silver, NJ's Molly McNamara (5:06.30) and Wilmington, Delaware's Lindsey Olivere (5:08.98), with Connecticut and New York State delegates right behind the leaders.
DISTANCE MEDLEY RELAY — Nike Outdoor Nationals field announcer Ian Brooks was bursting with enthusiasm as the Warwick Valley, NY girls stepped up to receive their distance medley relay gold medals, American flags and champions' bouquets.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you were treated to something very special today, you saw a national record. Bay Shore, New York had run 11:33.42 in 2004 but now it's gone, it's history," Brooks told the crowd, now roaring its approval.
Senior Tori Pennings got it started with a 3:33.2 1,200 meters, junior Kristen Jados blazed a 51.3 400, senior Clair Pettit went 800 in 2:11.3 and sophomore Lillian Greibesland clinched it all with a 4:50.0 1,600.
Anchorman Greibesland said, "This just means everything. We came here with so many goals in mind. We wanted the school record, we wanted the national record and we wanted to win the 4x8 yesterday. This is just the icing on the cake.
"Getting the national record has been our focus all year. I guess if you keep telling yourself you can do it and keep working toward it, it's going to happen one day. At least that the way it worked for us."
Hannah Davidson-anchored Kinetic Running Club of Saratoga Springs, NY moved up to fourth on the all-time U.S. charts with its 11:36.81, with Garden City Track Club third at 11:50.61 and Burnt Hills, the morning session's 4-mile elay winner, fourth in this one at 11:53.25.
800-METER RUN - Jillian Smith has always been on the gold standard at Greensboro. At the 2006 NON, she won the freshman mile crown in 4:59.08. In 2007, she joined her Southern Regional High School/Manahawkin, NJ teammates in an 11:40.81 distance medley relay triumph.
With Danielle Tauro, the 2007 Southern Regional anchor, now starring at the University of Michigan, Southern Regional coach Brian Zatorski opted to send his top stars, junior Smith and sophomore Chelsea Cox, after individual honors.
And what a winning move it was.
Smith, came to Greensboro with a 2008 best of 2:05.26 at the June 5 New Jersey Meet of Champions, took another small slice out of that with a rousing 2:05.24 triumph.
Queens New Yorker Phyllis Francis took out the pace from the gun, leading through 200 meters in 28.3. By 350 meters, Smith had surged in front and led after a lap in 1:00.6.
With that kind of pace, record-breaking times were obviously within reach.
Smith continued blasting away from the pack with a 1:31.8 at 600, and then it was just a matter of bringing it home. A concluding 200 in the 31 range would have destroyed several chapters of the record book, but Smith at last felt the strain and finished with a last 200 in the 33.4 range.
"I wasn't really thinking about records or anything else but winning," said Smith. "The race went just the way I wanted it to. But I had no idea anyone was closing on me, either."
It was Spring Lake, Minnesota junior Rebecca Addison who closed fastest of all and zeroing in on Smith when she ran out of track and settled for second in 2:05.61.
"I always close fast like that; I used to be a sprinter," explained Addison.
Spanish Fork, Utah senior Nachelle Stewart snared third in 2:08.01 with Garden City, NY sophomore fourth in 2:09.17 and Smith's teammate, Cox, fifth in a 2:09.57 PR and an improvement on her own NJ sophomore best-ever.
Smith will now have to wait until 2009 to attack the record books.
In her sights will be the national record (Kim Gallagher's 2:00.07 for Upper Dublin, Pa. in 1982); the all-time NON record (Chanelle Price's 2:02.76 for Easton, Pa. in 2007), and the all-time New Jersey record (Joetta Clark's 2:03.54 for Columbia High of Maplewood in 1979.)
Southern Regional coach Zatorski was not on the Greensboro scene — but he did have the perfect alibi for remaining in New Jersey. He and wife Tricia welcomed second daughter Juliet Lila to the world on Wednesday night.
4x100 RELAY — Skyline High School's biggest contribution to track and field over the years has been — of course, of course — world 200/400 record-smasher Michael Johnson.
But the Dallas school's tradition is certainly alive and well, a point driven home with emphasis in a 46.34 4x100 triumph, despite shaky stickwork.
This was a race that seemed to have four possible winners as the teams raced around the final bend. But Skyline had just enough to fight off Withrow of Cincinnati (46.39), Oak Ridge of Florida (46.40) and Elizabeth Seton (46.74.)
But it wasn't the Texans' fastest of 2008 — they'd posted a 45.74 winning their state's 5A title.
Skyline won it with Alishia Perkins, Tiiffany Hines, Candice Jackson and Charachesicia Lockhart
Lockhart put it this way: "Even though we had bad exchanges, we have faith in each other and that's why we were able to hold on. We just worked hard.
"I didn't feel her (Withrow's anchor) coming at all. I knew I had her in the final straightaway. We have worked hard all year and we weren't going to let anyone take that away from us. We have been No. 1 in the nation all year, so we weren't going to give it up now."
HAMMER THROW — Lovett High School (Marietta, Ga.) senior Allison Horner had all her credentials lined up long before the 22-thrower field assembled at Aggie Stadium.
After all, she came to Greensboro as:
(a) The defending NON champion with her 2007 heave of 166-11;
(b) Owner of the five best throws in the nation this year, headed by her 194-footer at USATF Georgia meet on May 11.
(c) Third spot on the all-time American list, her 194-0 trailing only Maureen Griffin's 201-7 for Pocatello, Idaho in 1998, and Jennifer Dahlgren's 15-2 for Klein, Texas in 2002.
So her decisive NON was no shock at all. Still, she would have liked to have gone better than her 177-2 winner. Then again, all five of her legal throws — she fouled in round three - topped the best effort (167-10) of silver medalist Victoria Flowers of Providence, RI. Rhode Islander Meaghan McGovern (149-6) outdueled Georgian Patrice Gates (149-2) for third place.
Statesboro, Ga.'s Sally Marie Futch led Flight One throwers at 126-6.
However, her trip to the USATF Junior Nationals Friday in Columbus, Ohio was something of a downer. Hoping to make the American team heading to the IAAF World Junior Championships in July in Poland, she placed a disappointing fourth at 176-4.
"I just needed to redeem myself today." she said. "My mindset changed after yesterday's meet. My flight was at a late time and I had to get up at 6:30 this morning. I had to tell myself it was going to be a big day. In Columbus, I had an off day, so I knew I had to come in here today and do well or it was going to be a bad weekend."
LONG JUMP — Jacinda Evans, the Southern High School senior out of Durham, NC, wasn't at her best — but still good enough to win it.
She'd gone 20-3 1/2 back in April at the Cougar Invitational, but her 19-9 1/2 here sufficed to win it.
It was a tight-tight all the way, with any of four other top candidates through the final rounds. Port Arthur, Texas sophomore A'Lexus Brannon was a close second at 19-8, with Airmont, NY soph Jennifer Clayton (19-7), Raleigh, NC senior Tyler Ford (19-5 1/2) and Jacksonville, Fla. junior Sonnisha Williams (19-4 1/4) next in line. "I really don't know if people know how hard the long jump is," said Evans. " Everything has to be perfect and you're going up against the best in the country.
"All it takes is one big jump and it's over. You're phases have to be exact, and I'm pleased I was able to get it done today. I knew I had to come in here level headed and ready to compete."
Brannon had come in with the nation's longest jump — a wind-aided 21-0 1/2 back in March.
HIGH JUMP — Just four past NON champions had cleared six feet or better, a list topped by Amy Acuff's 6-2 for Corpus Christi, Texas in both 1991 and 1993.
No one came close to six here, Norfolk, Va. senior DeShana Briggs going 5-8 1/2 to outleap Titusville, NJ's Emily Klinka and Medina, Ohio's Taylor Burke, who shared second at 5-6 1/2.
Said Briggs: "I've been setting goals since the district meet. Now I'm first in the nation, so that says a lot about setting goals.
"We don't practice high jumps because we have to focus on our runs. I just had to remember everything I was taught. I couldn't let the field (of rivals) intimidate me.
"A lot of girls were knocking down the bar at 5-8 1/2. I knew I had to set the standard. My coach told me to pick up speed and drive. I made sure I stay focused and curled through."
DISCUS — Cumberland, Maine senior Becky O'Brien had already won the shot put by a humongous margin Friday and hoped to add the NON discus title to her distinguished dossier. It just wasn't to be — but it was oh-so-close, three inches, or eight centimeters, to be exact.
Aslynn Halvorson, a junior from nearby Charlotte, saw to that with her third-round throw of 154 feet, 2 inches. In that same round, O'Brien whirled her best of 153-11.
Neither could improve on those figures in the final three rounds and so the results stood.
It would have taken at least a 167-2 to make the NON's all-time top five list. The 154-2 was the shortest winning NON performance since 2004.
"It was cool to win because my freshman year I did really bad here," said Halvorson. "Last year I got beat in the finals, so it was fun to come in and win this year. I wasn't expecting to."
"My technique has gotten so much better and I've become more confident. Those first two years I was scared to death. I felt like I was here with a lot of people who could beat me really bad. I realized I belonged here this year when I was throwing 130, 130 and then out of nowhere I threw a 154 to get into first place. That's when it hit me, I belong."
While just two others bettered 150 feet, the battle for the 3-4 spots was even closer than than the duel for 1 and 2. Sterling, Va. senior Natalie Baird grabbed third at 152-3 and Coralville, Iowa senior Taylor Freeman was fourth at 152-2.
There's lots of traveling booked into O'Brien's immediate schedule. Soon after O'Brien was done here, she and her family drove off to the USATF Junior National Championships in Columbius, Ohio. And then it would be back in the car for the long ride back to Maine.
By the fall, she'll return to the Tarheel State as a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
4x400 RELAY — The scene was set for some major fireworks after LaSalle Academy (3:55.14). Team M180 (3:53.38) and Ridge High (3:53.42) won the first three sections.
And the final did live up to its billing — as the Blazin' Raiders of Eleanor Roosevelt of Greenbelt, Md. fought off Boys and Girls of Brooklyn, 3:37.02 to 3:39.77.
The Raiders did take down the NON meet record — 3:37.38 by Wilson High of Long Beach, California back in 1997 — but they fell short of the USA all-time best, Long Beach Poly's 3:35.49 in 2004.
Boys and Girls' 3:39.77 became number seven on the all-time NON list.
Catonsville, Md. (3:47.70), Skyline of Dallas (3:47.91) and Walnut Hills (3:49.21) were distant trailers in the 3-4-5 spots.
Senior Elan Hilare opened for the Raiders in a quick 53.7. Junior Doris Anyanwu kept the lead with her 55.3. But Boys and Girls rushed ahead on the strength of senior Nadonnia Rodrigues' 52 flat on third leg.
Sophomore Afia Charles kept the Raiders close, back of Rodrigues, leaving it to senior Tasha Stanley to move back ahead and win it going away.