By Christopher Hunt
GREENSBORO, N.C. – They took two different routes but two records fell on the first day of the national championships.
Wesley Frazier (Raleigh, N.C.) set the national sophomore 5,000-meter record at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in 16:24.83 at Aggie Stadium, on the campus of North Carolina A&T. St. Benedict’s superstar sophomore Edward Cheserek broke a meet record while claiming his first national title in the 5,000 in 14:25.74.
Frazier showed the savvy of a veteran, sitting behind the pace while Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich.) carried the leaders through the second half of the race. Frazier moved up from fourth and latched on to Finn.
“I knew if I made this move, I couldn’t let go of her,” Frazier said.
With 450 to go and Frazier at her heels, Finn stepped on the inside railing. Finn didn’t fall but the stumble jarred the pace. Frazier looked to pass Finn on the inside and Finn attempted to gather her rhythm.
“I felt pace slowing down and I felt really good,” Frazier said.
That’s when Frazier took off. She put a 25-meter gap on the field almost instantly to win her first of three races for the weekend. The sophomore plans to race in the 2-mile Friday and the mile on Saturday. Frazier bettered a class record of 16:31.2 set by Julia Stamps of Santa Rosa (Calif.) in 1995.
Cheserek stormed off the starting line at a rate that made it clear that he was looking for a sub-14-minute performance. He zipped through the first four laps in 4:23.4 but started decelerating without any challengers to push him.
“There was no one pushing the pace,” Cheserek said. “It was very tough for me. I was thinking that these guys were going to run with me. It was tough.”
Cheserek finished fourth in the Dream Mile at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York last Saturday in 4:03.29 but passed on racing in the 2-mile or the mile to focus on St. Benedict’s distance medley relay Friday night.
It looked like Cheserek had decided the race in the first 200 meters. He ran the first lap in 62.4 and no one followed. Cheserek, who broke the national sophomore record in 14:02.33 in April, knew that missed his opportunity to break 14 minutes but blitzed the bell lap to break the Solomon Haile’s 2009 meet record of 14:32.36.
“I excited with the time,” he said.
Reach Christopher Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrisHuntArmory