UPDATED NBN Photo Highlights: includes TEAM CHAMPIONS

Track and field fans in North Carolina are fortunate that we have some of the best meets in the country right in our home state, thanks to the Belk Track facility at North Carolina A&T.  If you didn't come out to watch the New Balance Nationals, you missed an incredible weekend of athletics.  The NSSF prepared a schedule that had something interesting going at all times, from Thursday night through the LONG day Friday and all the way to the end of the meet Saturday evening.  I think my feet have finally recovered from all the walking and standing, as I was part of the MileSplit team providing you with top-notch coverage of the meet.  Here were the best points of the three days, from three national records to the best North Carolina had to offer, including a NATIONAL CHAMPION that we haven't previously reported!

(Photos by Jeff Sides except where noted)


Meet Coverage Page (MileSplit National Portal)


North Carolina Highlights


Team National Champions


NC at NBN Photo Album



National Highlights


Boys 4x800 National Record


In past years, the powerhouse track teams from Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, CA have come to meets on the East Coast with full boys and girls teams.  This year, however, they only brought one relay, and they only had one purpose.  With their opening three legs running 1:53.0, 1:52.79, and 1:55.27, there was some doubt going into the anchor as to whether the trip would be worth it.  In fact, they weren't even leading the race at the final exchange!



All doubt was removed when Poly anchor Myles Andrews dropped a 1:47.71 to lift his team to an overall time of 7:28.75, smashing the national record by almost two seconds in the process.  It takes impressive focus to come all the way across the country and pour everything into one race, and Poly accomplished their mission.






Girls Two-Mile National Record


The boys 4x800 wasn't the only highlight of Friday night, though.  Aisling Cuffe (NY), already the national leader at 3200, pulled away from a strong field to break the national record for the full 2 miles with her time of 9:54.22.  Most impressively, she ran negative splits, with her first full mile at 4:59 and her second at 4:55, including a 2:25 last 800 to close out the record.




Best Girls Distance Medley Race Ever


One of the crowning moments of Saturday night was the amazing DMR.  Amy Weissenbach, national leader at 800, set the pace early with an astounding 3:24.85 for Harvard-Westlake (CA) on the opening 1200 leg, considered by many to be the best HS 1200 ever.  For comparison, only 6 of the college teams from the Penn Relays had 1200 legs run faster than that.



Here's a tribute to the strength and determination of the Fayetteville-Manlius (NY) girls, though: they caught up.  Running under the name "Stotan," Heather Martin and Courtney Chapman powered back to put anchor Jillian Fanning in Range.



In the end, though, Cami Chapus was too strong to catch, and Harvard-Westlake claimed the title and the national record.  Fayetteville-Manlius also beat the previous record, as did third-place team North Shore (NY), whose anchor Samantha Nadel ran 4:42.  The fourth-place team in this race, Red Bank Catholic (NJ), ended up with the fifth-fastest DMR time ever.  That's four of the top five times in history in the same race, a fitting end to the weekend.


(Photo by Jeff George)




North Carolina Highlights


Wesley Frazier's Coming-Out Party


We're certainly familiar with Wesley Frazier (Ravenscroft) here in North Carolina, and she has gathered some national attention for previous performances, but this past weekend made her a national star and someone to watch in every future race.  Her weekend started with the 5000 on Thursday night, where she pulled away from the field to clock 16:24.83 and notch her first national title.  The time was a new sophomore-class national record and it made her the national leader this year.




On the few occasions that I have met and talked to her, she has always seemed shy and reserved.  It was a real treat, then, to see how genuinely happy and outgoing she was after winning this race, and really all weekend.  Check out this smile:



The big weekend continued for Wesley with a third-place performance in the 2 Mile, where her time of 10:10.86 makes her second-best in North Carolina history.  The mark also places her #3 in the nation this year, with only the two girls ahead of her in the race having run better times.



After two great races in two days, Wesley could be excused if her legs weren't at their best for her last event, the mile of Saturday evening.  It looked that way on the third lap, where she got taken off her stride by some light contact and dropped back a few spots in the large group still contending.  In 8th place at the bell, she had to reattach to the lead group as they took off, and that put her in 6th at the 200 mark, with the field strung out before her single-file and starting to separate a bit.  Anyone watching would assume that Wesley had used her last strength to get to the back of the leaders.



That's when the last amazing moment happened for Frazier: with 150 to go, she unleashed a ferocious kick, displaying speed that few expected of her.  She charged back on the outside, climbing the ladder one at a time as the crowd began to roar in response to her surge.  Perhaps fueled by their support, Wesley finished the improbable comeback to take her second title of the meet, her winning time of 4:44.76 also putting her in the #2 spot all-time in North Carolina.  Take one look at her face as she finishes, and you know she gave everything in this race, closing in an incredible 64 on her last lap, with most of the damage done on the home stretch.



Once again, her genuine excitement and happiness after the race was infectious, and she held up fantastically through a gauntlet of interviewers, photographers, general well-wishers, and of course meet staff trying to usher her along for awards.  Could this have been the best weekend of distance running ever by a North Carolina runner?  Here's the final impressive stat: Wesley Frazier finished third in the team scoring by herself!  (More on team scores later)


(Photo by Jeff George)



Knightdale Boys Take Two Relay Titles


The Knightdale boys were entered in an astounding seven relays at this meet, although one was Emerging Elite and a few were B-teams.  They definitely had their A-teams in the classic sprint relays, though, as they brought home two national championships, both over powerhouse Flanagan (FL)Knightdale also finished fourth in the 800 Medley Relay and 6th in the 4x400.  Burkheart Ellis Jr. was especially impressive, anchoring both sprint relays to wins against Jeremy Smith of Flanagan and powering through the fastest split on the 4x4 team as well.  More on the Knightdale boys below.


4x100: 40.93, NC #1 all time, US #8 this season


(Photo by Jeff George)


4x200: 1:25.04 NC #3 all time, US #4 this season


(Photo by Jeff George)


Sean McLean Gets Double Sprint Win


After giving us mere flashes of his potential during his three years at Southeast Raleigh, including a surprise win in the 100 at New Balance Nationals last summer, Sean McLean transferred to Word of God Academy.  As the announcer said both Friday and Saturday nights, this guy knows how to win when it really counts!  Friday night saw Sean blasting a 10.31 into a slight headwind, making him NC #3 all time and ranking US #7 (but tied for the #1 wind-legal time in the country).


(Photo by Jeff George, McLean is in 3 with sunglasses on)


(Photo by Toby Nygaard)


(Photo by Jeff George)


After the repeat victory in the 100, Sean came back on Saturday to add the 200, which has been his slightly weaker event thus far in his career.  After a strong 21.06 in the preliminaries brought him through as the #1 qualifier, McLean showed that he does, indeed, know how to win as he blazed to a 20.62 clocking, also into a slight headwind.  The time is second-best in North Carolina history and #1 in the country this season.  More important, though, it makes Sean McLean a double national champion!





Joshua McClam Wins Long Jump


Has anyone elevated their performances this season better than Josh McClam (Holly Springs)?  His best during the 2010 high school season was 22' 4", followed by a wind-aided 23' 7" jump during summer track.  He cranked out a 23' 0.25" jump at the Winter State Meet, but the real improvement happened in May:  24' 2" to win the 4A State Meet, and now 25' 2" to win a national championship!  The winning jump was wind-aided, but he had cleared 25' 0.5" on a wind-legal jump earlier in the meet for good measure.  Whether you look at all performances or only the legal winds Josh is #2 in the country, and his mark is good for #5 all-time in our state.






Keni Harrison Adds Another Title


After winning the 60 Hurdles at the New Balance Indoor Nationals, Keni Harrison (Clayton) came to Greensboro determined to add another in the 100 Hurdles.  She entered the meet ranked fourth in the country, and then improved her standing by advancing as the #1 qualifier from the the prelims with a 13.64 time into a headwind.  In the final, Keni took a slight lead on the 6th hurdle and then held off Kendell Williams (GA) at the line to claim her second national championship this year.  Not bad for a girl who didn't run track until her junior year!


(Photo by Toby Nygaard)


(Photo by Toby Nygaard)


Wakefield Girls, Knightdale Boys Win Team Titles


This is the second year that NBN has included team scoring.  As you can imagine at such a high-level meet, the scores were very low.  As you could see earlier, the Knightdale boys racked up 28 points in the relays, which gave them the overall team title for the meet.  Likewise, the Wakefield girls team, competing as Junior Striders, totaled 32 points to wind up in first place.  Although they did not record a single win in the meet, the Wolverines had three top-3 finishes and four All American performances over two days, all of them in relay races, to become the team national champions!  Here are the scoring races for the Wakefield girls:


3rd in Championship 4x200, NC #3 all time


(Photo by Jeff George)



3rd in Championship 800 Medley, 1:43.97


(Photo by Jeff George)



5th in Championship 4x100, 47.29


(Photo by Jeff George)



2nd in Championship 4x400, 3:47.15



Other Highlights from North Carolina


Sarah Graham (Wake Forest-Rolesville) 2nd in Heptathlon




Sydney White (East Forsyth) 2nd in Pole Vault




Cary Girls 3rd in 4x800, NC #1 all time




Jarrett Samuels (Evelyn Mack Academy) 2nd in Long Jump




Berry Academy 3rd in 4x200, NC #6 all time, US #5 this season

(a little nugget: Berry's boys told me they played seven games in a 7-on-7 scrimmage the day before)




Thomas Graham (Cary Academy) 2nd in 5000, US #9 this season