Saturday Stories from New Balance Nationals Indoor

Meet stories by Phil Grove and Steve Mazzone from Saturday's events at the 2014 New Balance Nationals Indoor.


Saturday Event Results

After moving up U.S. all-time list all season in pole vault, Devin King reaches top of historic mountain with new national high record

by Phil Grove

It was time to roll out the heavy artillery.

Devin King knew it, and so did his coach.

Facing a third and possibly final try at a national record, the Kentwood, La., pole vaulter reached for a longer pole to give him the edge in his battle with the crossbar. Already the 2014 national leader at 17 feet, 8 inches, King soared over the bar at 17-10.25 before celebrating the new all-time indoor best.

“We have been practicing on bigger poles,” said the winner, who outdistanced the competition by more than 16 inches. “It really takes a lot of speed and strength to get on them. We knew that it was the key to jump 17-10 or 18 feet, so we have been focusing on bigger poles. It worked.”

Erica Bertolina, King’s coach and a 2008 Olympian in the pole vault, said the success that the Southeastern Louisiana signee achieved today on a longer pole will come in handy when the outdoor season begins.

“That was a big adjustment for him,” Bertolina said of using longer poles. “We tried to do that a few weeks ago, and it was a little bit rough.

“Today, he didn’t have a choice. He had to go to a longer pole. It worked pretty well for him today.”

When King entered the competition at 16-2, only five other vaulters were still alive. His third consecutive first-try over at 16-10 guaranteed the senior of the indoor national title, and then he turned his attention to breaking records.

Prior to surpassing Andrew Irwin’s US indoor record of 17-9.75 from 2011, King raised the meet record to 17-6 with a substantial clearance.

“I felt pretty confident in jumping 17-6,” he said. “I cleared on the first attempt.

“I’ve jumped 17-8 so that’s old news. 17-10, I was exhausted but happy. I’ve been over it at meets, and I haven’t gotten it. So I feel relief at getting it now. I feel great.”

Bertolina noted that minor adjustments in King’s approach, coupled with the longer pole, paid immediate dividends on the record clearance.

“I adjusted his run so he had a little bit more room coming in to the takeoff, and it helped him move the pole better,” she said. “Obviously, that’s the adjustment that he needed because he had the height. (He) just didn’t leave the bar up.”

King’s afternoon finally came to an end with three solid attempts at 18-0 but not before he complimented his coach for her part in having his name in the national record book.

“She’s taught me everything I’ve known,” King said of Bertolina’s importance in his rapid development in just over three years in the event. “She’s a major role in my life. I thank God for her.

“She’s a great coach. Everything I do comes from her.”

Jonathan Denby of Carlinville, Ill., claimed the silver with a 16-6 clearance (US #9), while Noah Gilfillan of Corsicana, Texas, was third at 16-2 and Todd Uckermark of Warwick, NY, also cleared 16-2 for fourth.

Her national rise to become the US high school girls shot put record holder has been a life changing path for Raven Saunders

by Steve Mazzone

Raven Saunders wasted no time in etching her name into the record books.

The senior from Burke High in South Carolina smashed the national mark in the shot put at the New Balance Nationals on Saturday with a heave of 56 feet, 7.5 inches. Her effort broke the existing record of 54-9.25, set by Michelle Carter of Red Oak (TX) at the nationals in 2003.

Saunders’ winning distance came on her first toss.

“I was kind of looking forward to it but I didn’t know how far it would actually be,” she said. “I knew it would be about 54 feet but I never thought it would be 56.”

Saunders demonstrated consistency throughout the afternoon with all her throws exceeding 50 feet. She beat a talented field that included three more that reached the half-century mark. Liberty (NV) senior Ashlie Blake was second at 53-10.5 (US #2). Stamatia Scarvelis,  a senior from Dos Pueblos (CA), finished third with a throw of 52-8 and senior Lena Giger of Highland (IL) placed fourth at 50-feet even (US #4).

The Burke shot-putter had a nearly three-foot best, but she wasn’t surprised by her performance.

“Actually I have seen it for a while,” Saunders said.” I have been working hard in practice. We hit 54 sometimes. There’s been a couple of meets where I hit it in my warm-ups. I kind of have been seeing it for a while now. I was just waiting for it to come.”

What’s her thoughts on the victory?

“It feels great,” she said. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world.”

NXN's top 3 boys squads translates into top 3 times ever in 4xMile indoors

by Steve Mazzone

With the top three schools from the Nike Cross-Country Nationals on the line – team champion Gig Harbor (WA), runner-up Christian Brothers Academy (NJ) and Brentwood (NY) – the boys’ 4x1 mile relay had all the makings of an epic showdown at the New Balance Nationals Saturday afternoon.

Let’s just say that the trio lived up to the hype.

In a race that came down to the finals few meters, Christian Brothers survived the battle inside the New Balance Center. The Colts’ foursome of sophomore Blaise Ferro, senior Michael McClemens, senior Fran Bogan and senior Tommy Roomey crushed the national record with an electrifying time of 17 minutes, 7.17 seconds!

In fact, it wasn’t just Christian Brothers that went under the old mark of 17:20 by Chariho Regional (RI) in 2012. The next two teams did it as well as Gig Harbor finished second at 17:08.44 and Brentwood took third in 17:15.58.

Amazingly, the Colts’ time was a mere second from the outdoor mark of 17:06.6, set by South Eugene, Ore, in 1975.

“We knew this was an opportunity to be something special,” said Christian Brothers’ assistant coach Chris Bennett. “The 4x 1 mile is such a difficult race because of how long it is, how confusing it can be for the kids. If we showed up today and we won, we would have to set a national record. We knew the other teams realized that as well. The chips were ready. They knew it was going to hurt. It was probably the greatest distance relay that I have ever seen.  I have been around the block a few times. That was everything it was built up to be. Gig and Brentwood made that race just as much as we did. We needed all three teams for something special to happen. It was a great race.

Roomey admitted the victory eased the pain of their loss to Gig Harbor at the NXN. Gig won the crown with a 111-139 win over CBA. Brentwood was third with 174 points.

“We were absolutely crushed (after NXN),” he said. “It really put a chip on our shoulder. Once we found out that they were going to come to nationals here, we got pretty excited, we amped it up a little bit more, we got a lot more focused, put in a little more training the past few weeks. It paid off. If it wasn’t nationals, I don’t know if we would have had that extra motivation to do it. We just came to win.”

“We have been talking about this every single day,” Ferro said. “It went exactly according to plan.”

Roomey fulfilled his part as a worthy anchor by running a 4:10 for his split. The key exchange may have come from McClemens, the Colts’ second leg. Gig Harbor held a strong lead after junior Tristan Peloquin opened up with a sub-4:16 mile.

McClemens’ put CBA in front by uncorking a 4:11 for his leg.

“Michael was the New Jersey state champion for 1,600 (meters),” Bennett said. “We had the luxury of placing these guys where we wanted to. Our sophomore led off. He was the Meet of Champions’ winner in the two mile. We thought that would probably be best with him because it’s just a straight-up race. Everyone is starting at the same time, less moving parts. We also knew that we had a fast second leg that could really open things up and take a little bit of pressure off our third leg. It worked out perfectly.”

As evident by the final times, the win didn’t come easy for the New Jersey school. Brentwood’s Alec Thomas put his squad in the lead with 800-meters left. Gig Harbor’s Wolfgang Beck bolted to the front with a lap remaining. Roomey never gave up, passing Beck on the second to last turn and then holding him off the final straightaway.

“When Wolfgang got the baton in front of me I knew I had to run a fast last leg,” Roomey said. “I felt pretty strong. I eventually caught him at 800 and was able to reel him in the end.”

Beatty guts out a bum leg for team, anchor Angermeier pulls out 4xmile title at end for Blacksburg squad

by Steve Mazzone

Based on their 1-2-4-5 finish at the state meet a few weeks ago where they averaged a 5:01 mile, Blacksburg (VA) was considered a strong favorite to win the 4x1 mile relay at the nationals.

But that all changed a week and a half ago when a foot injury to relay member Emily Beatty forced the junior to resort to an elliptical machine this past week leading up to the big meet. That left head coach James DeMarco and his team with a difficult decision this Saturday.

The doctors gave her the okay to compete, but would it effect the team’s chances at a team title.

“You got to be careful in crossing that line on being courageous or being smart” DeMarco said. “You got to think what is best for the team.”

After a brief, three-minute run outside the Armory to test the tender foot, it was decided by the Blacksburg coach that his runner could at least run about 5:20, which would still be enough for a possible win.

Beatty ran close to that projected clocking with a 5:23 for her opening leg. Her gutsy effort along with a blistering anchor from junior Bonnie Angermeier enabled Blacksburg to take home the championship with a winning time of 20 minutes, 28.56 seconds.

Angermeier uncorked a PR of 4:56 for her final leg to make up a six-second deficit with 800-meter remaining to pass front-running Hailey Dougherty of Oakton (VA) with a half-lap remaining en route to the crown. Oakton placed second in 10:34.05. Unionville (PA) was third at 20:40.10.

“She’s got a real crazy kick,” DeMarco said. ‘She doesn’t have a lot of speed but when she gets tired she can kick at another level. She kicked her down and got the win for us.”

Angermeier, who won the mile at the VHSL Group 3A State Indoor T & F Championships on Feb. 1 with a 4:59 effort, felt she had a chance to catch Dougherty.

“I ran 4:59 at states and I was happy with that. I had it in the back of my mind that I could do a little better,” she said. “I had no idea how fast I was running just kept looking up at the girl in front of me. She pulled me through the race and I probably couldn’t have done that time without her.”

Blacksburg was behind the leaders by more than half a lap after the first leg and moved to fourth with its third leg. Junior Jen Fleming and senior Claire Ewing-Nelson made up some ground with strong legs in the low five-minute range.

It was then that Angermeier went to work to eventually reel in Dougherty and kick to the finish for the win.

“I really started gaining on her around the 400,” she said. “I guess there I was thinking, ‘This is nationals, this is where it ends, I have to leave everything out there.’ We had a dream this would be a special year….Having us all three together we always had the dream of the mile, and it happened today.”


Aussie racewalker Resch makes herself Americanized with indoor national title, while Peters brothers go 1-2 for boys

by Phil Grove

They are from different parts of the globe, but Ashleigh Resch and Anthony Peters obviously both felt at home on the 200-meter banked oval at The Armory.

Resch, an Australian who moved to the U.S. with her military family only months ago, and Peters of Chicago captured the 1-mile race walk titles Saturday morning.

In only her third race ever indoors, Resch took the lead in the early going and powered to the win, holding her form throughout in a US#1 clocking of 7 minutes, 19.22 seconds.

“I was pretty confident,” said Resch, who entered as the national leader. “I knew I was going to do well. Ultimately, I was just going to go out there and try my hardest.”

Resch, whose father is in the Australian Air Force stationed at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson base, relocated to Yellow Springs, Ohio, in December.  Her first indoor race was in February on Cedarville (Ohio) University’s 200 flat track and a week later she was on the banked oval at The Armory for the Millrose Games, where she finished fourth in an almost identical time.

“It’s really interesting because I’ve never raced indoor (before February) because we don’t have indoor tracks in Australia,” she said of walking under cover. “It was a really interesting experience.

“I was a bit uneasy (at Millrose). I lost my balance a few times, but it was fun.”

The 2013 runner-up in the Under-17 5,000 in her native country, Resch has been race walking for almost a decade.

“When I enrolled in Little Athletics, I saw all of the walkers going around every few weeks,” Resch, 17, said of her initial viewing at age 8 to what would become her event. “My friend and I used to go over to the 200-meter start after one of our events and said, ‘I want to do that.’ We used to call it the butt wiggle. We didn’t know what it was called at the time.”

National 1,500 leader Katie Michta of New York was second in a US#2 7:22.67, while Maegan Allen of Arlington, Mass., was third in 7:28.16.

In the boys’ race, Peters and his twin brother Alexander were at the front from the gun. Despite a late caution paddle from one of the event judges, Anthony Peters was unchallenged over the final laps, winning in 6:38.81.

“I try to get a mental aspect of where I am, what am I doing, what might be wrong,” the senior said of reacting to a judge’s call. “I look at the paddle, OK I need to relax a little bit. I might be getting too excited.”

Drawn into the track specialty when he was in eighth grade by his twin brother, Anthony Peters said competing on a banked indoor track presents challenges and opportunities.

“It definitely is a lot different,” the winner said of race walking on the banking. “Personally, I like the banked curve. I know a lot of people complain about it because it is hard to maneuver with form and stuff.

“I like it. It makes me feel comfortable. I can’t really explain it.”

Alexander Peters finished second in 6:44.34, while freshman Cameron Haught of Yellow Springs, Ohio, eked out third in 6:55.42 and Geraldo Flores of Pharr, Texas, was right behind at 6:55.51.

An erased mark can't keep Canadian high jumper Galas from first

by Phil Grove

Not much got in the way of Canadian Paul Galas and a New Balance National title in the high jump.

Well, nothing outside of a cleaning lady ready to tidy up The Armory as Saturday’s final event came to a close.

Galas was still perfect on the day when the event title was his. Things got slightly interesting and very strange when one of his approach marks accidentally was swept away by a maintenance worker anxious to get a start on clearing any tape or debris from the infield.

“I’ve never seen that before,” he said of being alarmed when his taped mark was picked up and tossed into a garbage can on wheels as he prepared for his final try at a possible PR of 7 feet, 0.5 inches. “You have to go with it. There’s no excuse, but that was odd.”

Galas needed just one jump at 6-4.25, 6-6.25 and 6-8.25 as only Jermaine Lascelles of Bloomfield, Conn., was able to keep pace with a third-try clear of 6-8.25. Galas did not waste any time in keeping his momentum rolling, sliding over 6-10.25 on his initial attempt to clinch the title.

“It was good,” Galas said of his winning jump. “It wasn’t much pressure on me. I felt like I was just having fun. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

Galas’s run at the title was made easier as a third of the field failed to clear the opening height.

“I was very surprised,” Galas, who was seventh in last year’s World Youth Championships, said of the abundance of misses. “Coming in the field looked pretty good. I was surprised, but I can’t complain.”

Of his second run at 7-0.5 this year, Galas was optimistic and even offered a prediction.

“It will come,” the Ontario resident said. “Outdoors, to be safe to say, I think I’ll get it.”

Another Canadian – Leaugen Fray – was third at 6-6.25, while Steven Dunbar of Virginia Beach, Va., was fourth at the same height.

Presiding national leader Benjamin Bonhurst extends his US #1 mark in shot put

As much as anyone could feel at home in a metal cage with artificial turf, Benjamin Bonhurst might be that someone. And his “home” away from home is the throwing area at The Armory.

With his mother by his side, the senior from nearby Smithtown, N.Y., put a mark out there in the opening round for the field of 47 to top. It never was bettered as Bonhurst lived up to his role as national leader with a title winning heave of 64 feet, 7.75 inches.

“I like (hitting my best) on my first throw or my last throw because I get the clapping on my last throw, and my first throw, I get adrenaline in me,” the winner said. “In between that, I don’t really throw at the full potential that I could.

“I was hoping that nobody could beat me, honestly. I knew I had over 65 in me, and I fouled it by a little on my last throw. I’m just happy that I won at the end, honestly.”

Following up on what eventually was the day’s winning throw, Bonhurst uncorked a heave of 63-5 that also would have been a winner. The spinner added another over the 60-foot line (62-0) to close out his preliminary tosses before he fouled all three tries in the final.

“It’s awesome being national champ,” said Bonhurst, who hit a US#1 65-0 last month. “I knew I could PR, but that doesn’t matter. I’m pumped. I’m national champ.

“This place is like my home. Every single time I’ve done my best here, every single time.”

Before he walked away from his “home,” Bonhurst posed for a photo in the circle with his mom, Haidee.

“She is my coach,” Bonhurst said of his mother. “It’s up and down. We get in fights a little, but I love her to death.”

Each of the finalists topped 60 feet, with Devon Patterson of Williamsville, N.Y., claiming second at 63-3.5. AmirAli Patterson of Encino, Calif., won bronze with a put of 62-11.25 as the top three each hit their best in the prelims. The top five finishers were seniors, while places 6-8 still have a year remaining.     

Boys 4x800 Story

by Steve Mazzone

Thomas Slattery and the rest of his teammates knew what was at stake. If the talented foursome from Chaminade, N.Y., wanted to pull out a win in the 4x800-meter relay at the New Balance Nationals they couldn’t back down from top-seeded Blacksburg.

Early last month, the Virginia school had posted the nation’s fastest time of 7 minutes, 44 seconds to win the New Balance Collegiate Invitational at the same Armory facility as the NBN.

“Our coach had us watch the Blacksburg video when they ran 7:44,” Slattery said. “We knew what we were up against and we knew what we had to do.”

Chaminade faced a tall order on Saturday afternoon. And like champions do, they responded. Big time!

Sparked by a thrilling anchor from senior Sean Kelly, Chaminade captured team glory at the nationals with a meet and facility record of 7:40.80. Blacksburg was second at 7:41.95 (US #2). Chaminade’s time is not only a new nation No. 1 but is the second fastest clocking of all time and a catholic high school national record.

“It’s great to know that we ran faster than any other high school team that has ever competed here,” junior Gunner Nolan said.

Running the third leg, Nolan gave Chaminade a slight cushion over Blacksburg with a 1:54.44 split. Kelly solidified the crown by holding off Blacksburg’s Kenneth Hagen with a lightning-fast time of. 1:51.03. Hagen was timed in 1:50.86.  

“I have never raced against him but I have seen footage of him racing. It’s ridiculous what he runs, especially the 1,000,” said Kelly, referring to Fagan’s 2:26 speed for the 1K. “Thank God I had the lead. Thanks to Gunner, I could be a little conservative at the beginning because I knew (Fagan) had a good kick.”

Hagen passed Kelly with about 300m left. The Chaminade runner regained the top spot with less than a lap remaining.

“I just waited for him to catch up to me,” he said. “I didn’t know he was going to pass me. It worked in my favor. I just knew on the last lap I had to move.”

“I owe him a lot for that. I don’t know if I would be able to do that on my own,” he added. “There was so many great runners on the other teams. They were able to help me push myself and I was able to finish the way I did.”

Senior Andrew Dorritie ran a leadoff leg of 1:59.46 and Slattery kept Chaminade in contention with a quick 1:55.87 effort.

“We just had to set everybody up,” Dorrite said. ”That’s the point of a relay. We set everybody up for it. Our coach is Kevin Byrne. He worked with us a lot. We all wanted it. We really did. There is not much else to say.”

Girls 4x800 Story

by Steve Mazzone

At last year’s New Balance Nationals, Freehold Township just missed All-American status in the 4x800-meter relay by taking seventh overall.

It was a little different this time around for the New Jersey-based school.

With solid legs by all four members of its squad, Freehold Township copped the overall title on Saturday with a nation-best clocking of 9 minutes, 0.62 seconds. Benjamin Cardozo of N.Y., was second with a time of 9:06.35 (US #3).

“We knew that we had a chance to get All-American and hopefully place because last year we finished seventh,” said junior Emily Bracher, who along with senior Adrian Vitello, was on the 2013 squad. “We never expected to win. We knew we had the opportunity. We are just really excited and grateful for the opportunity.”

Except briefly in the early stages, Freehold Township led for nearly all of the race.  Junior Adrian Vitello led off the relay with a 2:15.75 leg. Junior Caitlyn Poss maintained the top position with 2:13.59 effort. Sophomore Ciana Ross, a long-distance specialists with a best of 10:47 for 3,200 meters, was timed in 2:17.29 for her crucial third leg.

“I am not really an 800 runner,” Poss said. “I have never even ran sub 2:20. To run 2:17 today was just like amazing.  To run nine minutes (for the relay), is just like amazing.”

“I am very proud that she stepped up, especially being an underclassman,” said Bracher, who anchored the winning quartet with a time of 2:13.99. “She really stepped it up.

Shuttle Hurdles Relay Story

by Phil Grove

It was hardly beginner’s luck, but the Hoover, Ala., shuttle hurdle squad showed it didn’t need a lot of races together to get into sync and strike for gold medals.

In fact, the quartet of sophomore Brittley Humphrey, freshman Caitlyn Little and seniors Errin Perry and Sarah Sanford had not raced as a group before the last of eight heats Saturday in the 4x55-meter event at The Armory. The wait was well worth it as the squad zipped to a national record time of 31.35 seconds.

“We were expecting to do pretty good because we’ve never had a team this talented,” said Humphrey, who led off the race for the winners. “We were practice timing ourselves, but we never actually ran it before so we were pretty excited with the time.”

The Alabama squad had little margin for error as the next two teams came from their heat and also eclipsed the former US record. Virginia’s Western Branch, which had three units in the 29-team field, picked up the runner-up spot in 31.46, while Winslow Township of New Jersey claimed third in 31.87 to erase the old mark of 32.02 set in 1999 by Palm Beach Lakes.

“Last week, every day we made sure our exchanges were right, making sure there were no mistakes,” Perry said.

The victory and national record for Hoover puts a wrap on a title chase for the two seniors that got close with a fifth, fourth and fifth in the past three national meets at The Armory.

“We have been training for No. 1, and we finally got it,” Sanford said. “I just needed to go out there and do what I did. Do what we did earlier, and we had it.”

Although they hadn’t raced together in the event, the Alabama quartet was united on several fronts.

“You just have to work together,” Little said. “We all wanted it.”

In the boys’ shuttles, it took seven heats for the lead to finally change hands. And it came during a dramatic final heat featuring defending champion and national record holder Union Catholic of New Jersey and Western Branch, which had two boys teams entered.

“As (Stephan Arjoon) was coming down, all I was thinking about was executing and doing what I’ve been practicing,” senior anchor Gregory Chiles said of his final seconds of preparation before he launched into the five flights of hurdles. “Last year, I was on the B team because I wasn’t fast enough.

“So I went back, started training harder and I made it on the A team. Then I was anchor, and I promised my team a victory.”

The promise Chiles made to teammates Rashaun Hamilton, Terrence Ricks and Arjoon was in doubt until the final strides as Union Catholic anchor Taylor McLaughlin began to close on leading Western Branch. A possible photo finish did not develop as the Union Catholic anchor clipped the final hurdle and slammed hard into the track at the finish line.

“You have to get out,” Western Branch leadoff hurdler Ricks said of the key to his squad’s  US#1 29.40 clocking, which was just two-tenths of a second off the national record set at last year’s meet. “That’s the reason why I run first leg.  Also I can sprint real well. That’s what helped us win a national title.”

Union Catholic was credited with a US#2 time of 29.52, while Sheepshead Bay, N.Y., was next in a US#6 30.62 and Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar claimed fourth in a US#9 30.81.

Sprint Medley Story

by Steve Mazzone

Besides winning a national championship, there was something else on the minds of the St. Anthony’s foursome before lining up for the finals of the sprint medley relay.

“We were running also for breast-cancer awareness because one of our track girls, her mom, passed away early this year,” said Sebastian Pierce. “We knew, representing her, that we had to run our hearts out.”

Pierce and his remaining teammates did just that on Saturday afternoon, holding off fellow New York rival Warwick Valley to win the SMR at the New Balance Nationals with a nation-best of 3 minutes, 26.16 seconds. Warwick settled for second at 3:26.09 (US #2) and Union Catholic of N.J., placed third at 3:26.16 (US # 3).

Pierre and senior Monzai Nelson ran strong 200 legs for St. Anthony’s, averaging about 22-seconds each. Trailing early-race leader Union Catholic by a considerable margin, junior Marlon Montague closed the gap with a 49.14 split.

Union Catholic’s third leg was Jordan Jimerson, ranked No. 11 in the 300.

“I knew coming into the race that I had a lot of competition.  I was running against one of the fastest 300 runners in the country,” he said. “I did my best to make sure that there was no gap that would open up between me and first place and that’s what I did. And here we are. It feels good.”

Senior Louis Santilli blazed the anchor for St. Anthony’s with a 1:52.61 split. He battled back and forth with Warwick’s Tom Reilly, who was timed in 1:52.01.

“That was a nail-biter. Going into it, I wanted to pass Union (Catholic’s Anthony Gizzone) the first 400,” he said.  “I caught him and then I realized the pace was slow and I just tried to pull away.”

“With 200 to go I was saying I think I got this….I just focused and said I have to win this. My team is depending on me. I got to go,” he added. “We have the national championship, All American, it’s incredible.”

In the girls’ race, Columbia, N.J., came short of its goal to break the national record (3:53.17), but still won easily with the country’s fastest time this year of 3:57.19 Connecticut’s Wilbur Cross was a distance second at 4:02.68.

Senior teammates Maya Hinton and Kayla Richardson averaged 26 seconds for their 200 legs. Junior Emile Cowan was 55.67 for her 400 and senior Olivia Baker finished it off with an anchor of 2:09.30 for her 800.


Long Jump Story

by Phil Grove

Judging from the numbers registered during Saturday’s long jump finals, the runway at The Armory served as a pretty decent launch pad.

Nathaniel Moore of Fremont, Calif., added more than a foot to his season best, securing a boys’ indoor national title and his new position as US#1 with a leap of 25 feet, 0.75 inches.

“I have trouble getting up in the air sometimes,” Moore said. “Earlier this year at the Simplot Games, I had a hard time getting up in the air for some reason. Today, I got the bounce I needed to put a long jump out there.”

Fourth of eight competitors getting three more jumps in the final, Moore immediately grabbed the lead in round 4 with a 24-5. The rest of the finalists also weren’t resting on their laurels as Andrew Bolze of Hingham, Mass., spanned 24-3 in the same round to move into second.

“I didn’t really make any adjustments, just kept on pushing down the runway,” Moore said of the difference for him with his big jumps in the finals. “Kept shooting my mechanics and doing what I had to do.”

Moore kept the pressure on the field, hitting the eventual winner in the next round.

“I just came out, I wanted to really perform,” Moore said. “I know it’s a big stage.

“I got the clap going for the first time at the event. It just might be it that propelled me to that jump. It was a good jump, a really good jump.”

The winner said walking away with the national championship and a 25-footer has him looking forward to the upcoming outdoor season.

“I really believe in my ability,” said Moore, who entered the meet ranked No. 3 in the country. “I really believe I can jump whatever I need to at any certain time.

“(The winning distance) was a surprise because I am only going from half an approach right now. When I move my approach back, I don’t know what I am going to do. It’s going to be some big things so I am excited.”

Fellow Californian Adoree Jackson was second after the prelims and moved back into that spot for good with a US#3 24-4.5 in the final round. Bolze also went long in the final round, leaping a US#4 24-3.75 for third place. Isaiah Moore of Burlingtin, N.C., was the leader heading into the finals with a jump of 23-11.75, and he became US#5 24-1.75 in round 5 to finish fourth.

In the girls competition, national leader Keturah Orji secured the first half of a predicted long jump/triple jump double, taking the lead in the second round and never giving up the top spot.

“I was happy after I got it because I knew that was one of the bigger jumps and other people can’t jump as far,” Orji said of her second-round leap of 20-4. “Also, I was in for 21 today and I didn’t get it … again. So I’m really disappointed.”

In the finals, Orji was looking for her 21-footer but immediately registered two fouls instead.

“I was disappointed that they were fouls because I was pretty sure that they were bigger jumps,” she said.

All was not lost, however, as she responded with her winning leap of 20-5.25 on the final jump of the competition.

“I was hoping that (another top jumper) would be here to push me, but she wasn’t so I had to push myself,” Orji said. “I do a lot better when I have someone else to push me.

Junior Kate Hall of Maine came through in the final round to pick up the silver medal, covering a US#3 19-11.5. Mia Barron of St. Louis Park, Minn., also had her best jump on her last trip down the runway, moving to US#4 at 19-8.25. The top seven jumped 19 feet or better.