Sarah Shulze, Meagan Lowe, Corrie Smith, Mariah Castillo, Sandra Pflughoft, Tori Gaitan, and Sara Leonard are among the returners; see them in the pack above from last year's Azusa Distance Meet of Champions. (Ben Crawford)
By MARK GARDNER
In what has become the premier distance prep invitational on the West Coast, the New Balance Distance Meet of Champions will once again rewrite the 2018 national rankings list here in March. Highlighting the festivities at Azusa Pacific University (about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles) will be some of the greatest distance talent assembled in the nation. With the weather forecasted to be in the low to mid-60s all throughout the day, it will be ideal weather for these distance harriers.
One of the distinctions of this meet is that it holds the world record of 405 boys eclipsing that 5-minute barrier in one invite! Meanwhile, it also holds the record for 268 girls running under 6 minutes for the 1600 meters in one meet. For our aficionados of distance running, this meet is for you! In the past decade, it has become the early-season stage at which the best in California come together to challenge one another in an electric atmosphere rarely duplicated elsewhere.
This year, meet director Tim O'Rourke has included an "invitational double" so that more athletes can take the opportunity of running a great 1600 and with ample rest; they can come back to roll in those 800s and 3200s. With this, expect to see more girls breaking 5:10 and boys dipping under 4:20!
This invite is unmatched in depth as breaking into the top 50 per event is a true challenge.
Scroll through the following slides for a closer look at each of the highlight events.