by Tom Utescher
A number of area high school athletes stayed on the track and in the spotlight as spring turned into summer, journeying down to Greensboro, N.C. for the New Balance Outdoor Nationals June 19-21.
A large Germantown Friends School contingent included rising senior Sarah Walker and junior Nick Dahl, who each turned in top-three performances in the championship division of the meet. Another rising junior, Germantown Academy’s Abbe Goldstein, won her race in the meet’s “Emerging Elite” division, a category developed for younger, less experienced runners.
Walker finished second overall in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:07.72, just seven-tenths of a second behind the gold medalist. Dahl placed third in the two-mile run behind two older runners, breaking a longstanding school record as he finished in 9:01.81.
Newly-minted Germantown Academy graduate Sam Ritz, the reigning state indoor champion in the mile, ran in the 800-meter boys championship at the New Balance meet. Ritz, who will enter Columbia University in a few months, did not have one of his best outings, but still garnered 16th place in an elite field with a time of 1:52.93. Five runners came in under 1:50, with the winning time of 1:48.33 put up by Clemson-bound Cheltenham High standout John Lewis.
Entered as an “Emerging Elite”, GA’s Goldstein demonstrated that she doesn’t have much more emerging left to do. The 2015 Inter-Ac League champ at 1600 and 3200 meters (as well as the 2014 cross country titlist), Goldstein won the “EE” two-mile race in 10:56.75. She was two-and-a-half seconds ahead of runner-up Elizabeth Davis of Northwood, N.H., and her time would’ve netted her a respectable 16th-place showing among the two dozen runners who raced in the championship division.
These were the only two Patriots competitors at the meet, but GFS was out in force, with 17 Tigers participating in the action. Most of them were entered in one of the many relay events.
Tigers head coach Rob Hewitt was happy with the time of 8:19.22 turned in by his boys 4 x 800 relay in the Emerging Elites. That figure netted 32nd place for Gordon Goldstein, Jonnie Plas, Daniel Stassen, and Colin Riley. In the girls’ version of the same event, GFS placed 46th in 10:02.23 with Alice Wistar, Griffin Kaulbach, Eliza MacNeal, and Helen Ruger.
“Gordy Goldstein had a really good weekend,” Hewitt pointed out. “He ran a pair of 2:02 half-miles for us.”
Hewitt had the quartet of Ahshar Williams, Isaac Myran, Eli Schwemler, and Grayson Hepp perform in two EE races, the 800-meter and 1600-meter sprint medley relays. In the former contest, the Tigers foursome was 36th in 1:39.73, in the latter, a time of 3:42.19 earned 29th place. Individually, Myran placed 18th in the freshman triple jump event, hitting the tape at 38’8.75.”
Germantown Friends also entered the championship race in the 1600-meter sprint medley relay, coming in 30th in 4:14.72. Walker anchored the race, and on the first three legs were twins Portia and Teasha McKoy, and Taryn Barrett. Portia McKoy also saw action in the freshman long jump competition, traveling exactly 15 feet for 35th place.
In the girls Emerging Elite distance medley relay, Wistar, Barrett, Ruger, and Kaulbach placed 26th in 13:05.57. In the boys’ version, Dahl led off for the Tigers and was followed by Schwemler, Goldstein, and Hepp. They came in 10th with a time of 10:41.83 in difficult conditions.
“It was ungodly hot down there on Sunday,” Hewitt related. “I think we did a good job of managing the heat, though. Tom Myran [assistant coach and father of Isaac] and the other coaches made sure we had ice and cold towels and lots of water. We got the kids into an air-conditioned van for a bit, and took them out to lunch so they could be in air conditioning.”
Walker’s 800-meter championship race went out slow, with the first of the two laps completed by the leaders in a leisurely 65 seconds or so.
“You run what the race gives you, and in the second lap Sarah started to assert herself,” Hewitt said. “She had it with 200 to go and at 100, but the other girl got her in the last 50 meters. It was still her highest finish ever, by far.”
The winner, rising junior Sammy Watson from Rochester, N.Y., clocked in at 2:07.02 to Walker’s 2:07.72. In third, at 2:08.31, was Danae Rivers of New Haven, Conn.
The Tigers’ Nick Dahl and his fellow two milers caught a break.
“There was a big storm during their warm-up, and by the time it was over, the temperature had gone from the mid-90’s to the mid-70’s,” Hewitt explained. “It was a perfect situation for the two-mile. Nick sat near the back for the first mile, and then he started sliding up.”
Rising senior Carter Blunt, from the Dallas, Tx. area, gained a little bit of separation and won in 8:58.03, but the next three across the line came in a clump. A graduating senior from northern Virginia, Alex Corbett, took second place in 9:01.16, while Dahl, in 9:01.81, edged out Rhode Island’s Jack Salisbury (9:01.85) for third.
UPDATE: On the final weekend of June, Germantown Friends’ Walker was running out west in the USA Track and Field Junior National Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore. She won her preliminary heat with the second fastest time overall, then missed second by a whisker in the finals, ending up in third place.
Raevyn Rogers of Houston, a recent high school graduate who will run for the University of Oregon, won in 2:06.64, and Ruby Stauber, Minnesota’s Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year, came in second in 2:08.36, one one-hundredth of a second ahead of Walker (2:08.37). The fourth-place runner was another two full seconds behind. In the middle of June, Walker had run a personal best of 2:05.79 to win the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational.
The U.S. junior record holder in the event is Ajee’ Wilson (1:58.21), who has been known to train at venues in Northwest Philadelphia. Now 21, she was racing last weekend in the regular USATF Championship, which was held along with the Juniors meet in Eugene last weekend.
Wilson, who runs professionally for Adidas® and attends classes at Temple University, earned the top seed for the 800-meter final. Despite losing a shoe during that race, she gutted out a third-place finish in a very strong field and was able to secure a spot on the U.S. team that will compete at the IAAF World Championships in China in August.