Another fantastic set of races, plus another meet record...but not from the boys' race, and not from a high school runner!
(Results, Photos, Videos)
Though it is a small event, the Reagan Two-Mile (also known as the Dash For Doobie) never feels that way in person. The strength of the field, combined with the under-the-lights feeling of the nighttime track race, makes for an exciting atmosphere that helps bring great performances out of the participants. Of course, when you have seven current-season state champions on the track at the same time, as was the case in the boys' race, then it's not hard to get fast times. A combined 44 boys from the three sections ran faster than 10 minutes, while 16 girls broke the 12-minute barrier, including a very surprising girls' champion. This article focuses on the first heat of each gender, which contained the top seeded runners.
Boys Seeded Section
After almost false-starting, Bakri Abushouk (Cary) went straight to the lead, to the complete surprise of absolutely nobody. From the get-go, though, it was clear that the only person mentally prepared to challenge Abushouk was Ben Huffman (Providence Day), who pulled away with the 4A state champion as he separated from the field. Abushouk and Huffman had already opened up a sizeable lead at the beginning of the third lap, having crossed the 800 in 2:12. Andre Ivankovic (Daniel SC) led the chase pack through the second lap before deciding that he would try to bridge the gap to the leaders, and over the middle mile he was able to gradually close the gap. The rest of the field was a chaotic and tightly-packed jumble which wouldn't sort itself out until the final mad dash to the finish.
Up front, Huffman continued to sit on Abushouk's heels and push the Cary senior, and the two crossed the mile mark in the low 4:30's. They fell off pace a bit on the fifth lap, ending any real chance at breaking the 9-minute mark and allowing Ivankovic to close withing striking range; however, they righted the ship for the final two laps, and eventually Abushouk pulled away slightly to take the win. His time of 9:04.02 was just off the meet record set by Craig Engels last year, while Huffman's 9:08.03 ranks fourth in meet history. Meanwhile, things were heating up in the main group behind them. A cluster of four runners broke away from the pack and charged to the finish line, with Tony Morales (Lexington SC) leading AJ Tucker (Cedar Ridge) coming off the final curve. Chris Reeder (Chapel Hill) mounted a huge kick down the stretch, getting all the way up to fourth and almost picking off Ivankovic in the process.
Boys 3200 Meter Run ================================================================ Name Year School Finals ================================================================ 1 Abushouk, Bakri Unattached 9:04.02 2 Huffman, Ben Unattached 9:08.03 3 Ivankovic, Andre Unattached 9:15.10 4 Reeder, Chris Unattached 9:16.10 5 Morales, Tony Unattached 9:16.39 6 Tucker, AJ Unattached 9:16.79 7 Langston, Zack Unattached 9:17.24 8 Maxey, Wyatt Unattached 9:18.87
Girls Seeded Section
This was a tactical race for the first five laps, meaning that the pace was moderate and the field was tightly-packed, as runners jockeyed for strategic position. Kayla Montgomery (Mount Tabor) found herself in the early lead due a very conservative start from the whole group, although quickly it was Samiiah Wilson (Cardinal Gibbons) upping the pace. Montgomery took the lead back on the second lap, and for much of the middle mile she traded pacing duties with Mattie Blue (Broughton). They hit the one-mile mark in 5:35, and the field remained tightly bunched through lap five before beginning to string out a bit.
It was on the fifth and sixth laps that you could see Mary Grace Doggett (Cardinal Gibbons) stalking the leaders, eventually moving into third place and waiting for her time to take over the lead. That turned out to be with 800 meters to go, and Doggett surged powerfully to take command. The only runner who seemed prepared to go with her was a suprise to nearly everyone (including the announcer, yours truly, who misidentified her during the race): it was Lexi King of Marvin Ridge Middle School, who showed she will be a force to reckon with for the next four years by responding to the 3A state champion's aggressive move. With one lap to go, it looked like Doggett had the race in hand, but on the final stretch the young upstart, King, hit the jets and just edged by at the line for the win. The time was 11:10.87, which is a meet record, and an incredible time for a current 8th-grader.
Girls 3200 Meter Run ================================================================ Name Year School Finals ================================================================ Finals 1 King, Lexi Unattached 11:10.87 2 Doggett, Mary Grace Unattached 11:11.00 3 Ramsey, Blair Unattached 11:14.24 4 Churchill, Tori Unattached 11:21.17 5 Montgomery, Kayla Unattached 11:21.94 6 Hussey, Melane Unattached 11:25.36 7 Grimes, Emily Unattached 11:25.70 8 Meshaw, Becky Unattached 11:30.28