Kansas Relays victories lead to Dream come true
By Craig Martin
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The adidas Dream Mile and Dream 100 harvested a bushel of talent from Saturday’s Kansas Relays.
The KU Relays serve as one of the automatic qualifiers for the two adidas events, slated for May 25th as part of the adidas Grand Prix at Randall’s Island, NY. Winners are guaranteed a spot if they hit the qualifying time at any point during the season.
Eureka (MO) sophomore Hannah Long and Glendale (MO) junior Spencer Haik won the 1,600-meter runs. Their times of 4:49.95 and 4:11.76, respectively, are just off the converted mile qualifying times needed to secure a ticket to New York.
The Dream 100 spots were won by Aaliyah Brown of Lincoln-Way East (IL) and Kenzo Cotton of Papillion-LaVista (NE). Brown, who was runner-up in the Dream 100 last year, ran an 11.60 that will not be slotted in the top 5 performances because of 2.1 m/s wind. Cotton hit 10.69 for first in the boys 100.
This year the Dream Mile was moved a week earlier because of a conflict within adidas’ Diamond Series, which means it is slated for the same weekend as the Missouri Class 3-4 state meet. Both Long and Haik as underclassmen have been granted the option of deferring their invitations until next year.
Even though both would need to drop their 1,600 times a couple more seconds to meet the conversion standard to guarantee a spot – 4:09.55 for Haik and 4:48.33 for Long – they could still grab an at-large bid. adidas representative Chris Hollis said all of their achievements this season could only help elevate their status.
“The body of work – a 2:11 (800), this race, a top 10 3,200 – she’s probably top 14 in the country, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Hollis said. “The same thing applies to Spencer.”
Long won Friday’s 800 in 2:12.81 by fending off four separate challenges. She made her final move with about 150 meters left in the race to secure the victory. Saturday’s 1,600 unfolded a little differently as Long let Maggie Montoya (Rogers, AR) and Katie Rainsberger (Air Academy, CO) lead at different points in the first three laps.
But Long never let them create any real separation, and she pushed to the front of the field with 200 meters left and pulled away from the contenders.
“I knew it would transition a lot in the third and fourth lap so I wanted to just run comfortably with the leaders the first two,” said Long, who eclipsed the meet record of 4:50.71 set by Shawnee Mission West’s Alli Cash last year. “I wanted the win, and I also wanted to go sub-4:50.”
Haik won Friday’s 800 by turning on his kick midway through the second lap. He was boxed in early and had to break stride to get in position to run down the victory in 1:55.54.
His kick was his best weapon again on Saturday. Amos Bartelsmeyer of MICDS (MO) and Garrett Lee of Belvidere North (IL) each took a stab at breaking away on the final lap. Haik maintained contact and found his extra gear in the final 90 meters to pull away for his 1,600 victory.
“I wanted to sit back a little bit, but it got to more of a gap than I had hoped. That was a mistake on my part, but I was just glad I had that kick to make up for it because I faulted in the middle, but my kick helped me out a little bit today,” Haik said. “(The Dream Mile) has been a goal of mine for a really long time so I was glad to get the win and get that opportunity now.
“It’s a big motivator because I know how much great talent is out there. It’s really a great honor to even go out there and be able to compete."
The 100 meter champions will not have a conflict of schedule for the adidas Dream 100 as their respective state meets will be completed prior to the trip to New York.
Brown said the thought of a return invitation has been motivating her all season.
“I’m going again; I’ve already got it checked on my calendar,” Brown said. “I love the experience, especially because we’re on the same track as the pros. That’s a really good feeling. It kind of hypes you and gets your mindset to be on the same level that they are.”
Cotton had an invite to last year’s Dream 100 but was unable to make the event. Earning a second qualification was important during his trip to KU.
“It’s pretty motivating, especially when you go you can see how you rank nationally,” Cotton said. “I felt good. My start wasn’t where I wanted it yesterday, so that was my focus – my start.”