Newbury Park junior Colin Sahlman thrust his arms in the air after crossing the finish line with a US No. 1 time in the 3,200m two weeks after running a US No. 1 in the mile. (Photo: Irving Garibaldi)
This article was updated 3/1 at 4 p.m. to add detail
Under near perfect conditions with the sun setting at Eastmark High School in Mesa, Arizona, the lights stayed on for the elite prep athletes competing at the Sundown Track Series Meet #2 where California athletes dropped impressive performances in the elite mile and 3,200 meter races.
Newbury Park (SS) junior Colin Sahlman and Crescenta Valley (SS) senior Mia Barnett put up jaw-dropping US No. 1 times for 3,200 meters, and Del Oro (SJ) junior Riley Chamberlain and Sage Creek (SD) junior Bryce Gilmore were fastest on the track in the elite mile races, Chamberlain's also a US No. 1 and Gilmore slotting in at No. 3.
These are a series of open meets that attract competitors from around the country and where athletes of all ages are welcome to compete if they meet a competitive standard. All athletes compete unattached. School affiliations are noted for identification purposes.
Let's begin at the end where in the fastest of the three heats of men's 3,200 meter races, Sahlman, having watched his lead fade and the track shorten to about 200 meters, unleashed a lethal kick that left two of the top distance runners in the county in his ether, closing with a 56.05 to cross in 8:47.05 clearly a US No. 1 and a top-20 time in California history for that distance.
Sahlman, Judson Greer (Melissa, Texas), and Larry Josh Edwards (Morgantown, West Virginia) ran in the front pack throughout but at the bell, Edwards had the lead and with 300 to go attempted to pull away. Sahlman and Greer would have none of it, holding pace. As Greer drew near Sahlman with about 200 left, the Newbury Park junior seized his opportunity and in one subtle yet powerful move, surged into a gap, pulled away from Greer and kept pace with Edwards. As they ran the curve Sahlman got stronger, and at the straight he shifted into overdrive and was gone, sprinting down the home stretch alone, thrusting his arms in the air as he crossed the finish line.
Two weeks before, Sahlman had battled Greer into the final lap of the mile race at Sundown Track Series Meet #1, before shifting into an impressive sprint to finish alone with a US No. 1 mile time of 4:09.86. Here, he split 4:26.81 and 4:20.24 in what appears to be the No. 18 fastest 3,200m in CA history and the fastest time ever run at that distance in the month of February.
Greer closed in 58.30 and crossed in 8:49.29. Edwards, who came into the meet with the US No. 1 indoor 3,200 time (8:51.88), closed in 59.56 and crossed in 8:50.20. Greer had run 8:56.99 just over a year ago.
Two other boys also ran sub-9: Caleb Boutelle of Colorado Springs (CO) Pine Creek (8:59.21) and Pasadena (CA) junior Isaiah Givens (8:59.64). Sahlman's teammate, Furman-bound senior Nicholas Goldstein, who ran with the lead pack for most of the race, was next in 9:00.50. Givens had a previous best of 9:16.03.
In the second of the three 3,200 races, Newbury Park sophomore Aaron Cantu dropped an impressive 60.69 final lap to win a sprint-finish in 9:20.57, 12th in the three-race merge.
INTERVIEW WITH COLIN SAHLMAN
She ran down the competition with a commanding 68.8 split for a US-leading 4:52.51. Staying together with the Arizona duo from Desert Vista High of Katie Sigerud and Lauren Ping, Chamberlain left no doubt over the last 300 meters.
Focused on the 3,200 meters and a two-time CIF Division III State Champion in cross country, she also placed fourth (10:21.31) at the CIF State Championships in 2019 as a freshman. She had previously run 4:44 for 1600 in what was essentially a time trial in July. This time equates to a sub-4:51 for 1600 meters.
Sigerud, ran 72 for the final lap to cross in 4:55.64. She came in with a previous best of 5:07.13 for the mile. Ping, a sophomore, who was a runaway winner over 3,200 meters at Sundown Track Series Meet #1, closed in 74.65 and crossed in 4:58.77, missing her PR by .30.
Grace Tipton, a senior from North Phoenix Prep, was fourth in 5:08.85.
Newbury Park sophomore Ailish Hawkins, who was fifth, paced the second pack, behind that lead trio, and crossed with a 5:14.03, improving her previous best of 5:19.86 set two weekends ago. Teammate, Morgan Nygren kept Hawkins nearby and also posted her best with a 5:15.71 for the full mile.
Peninsula's Aishling Callanan opened her freshman season on this day a year ago with 5:22.52 for the 1600 meters before the shutdown but also records a new personal best of 5:16.78. Simi Valley's Lexi Darley also displayed her improvement with a near 20-second altering her personal best of 5:25.91. The Simi Valley junior proved to be a key element to the success of her squad in their 8th place finish at the Cross Country State Meet.
INTERVIEW WITH RILEY CHAMBERLAIN
With a jaw-dropping 59.5 split over the last lap, Gilmore needed just about every bit of hit to hold off Vincent Mestler (Eugene (OR) Sheldon) for a new personal best of 4:14.67!
Content to allow others to set the pace over the first two laps, Gilmore came home with a 2:03.65 last 800 meters, culminating in a sprint finish where he surged ahead of Mestler in the final strides. Mestler crossed in 4:15.18.
The next Californian was Simi Valley (CA) Royal senior Angus Fitzgerald. The Boise State commit opened up the 2020 season with a 4:19.93 but put that one to rest this evening. Taking on most of the pacing duties up front, Fitzgerald closed with 60.5 last lap for a negative split, 4:15.47 for the mile.
INTERVIEW WITH BRYCE GILMORE
Pansegrau attempted to take control into the bell lap but Barnett looked strong and determined in grabbing back the lead and running away to victory. The two-time California State Meet podium finalist for the 1600 meters was no match as she unleashed with a 68.5 last lap! Barnett negative split the race with 5:15.01 - 5:00.81! It may have been nearly two years since she ran her previous 3,200 PR of 10:22.51 but the University of Virginia-bound senior displayed that veteran savvy for all to see.
Pansegrau's 71.91 close was good for a 10:19.05 runner-up finish. Ella Borsheim, a junior from Tacoma (WA) Bellarmine, placed third in 10:29.67. Katelyn Maley, a sophomore from Basalt (CO) High, was fourth in 10:32.33. Maley was the mile winner at Sundown Meet #1 two weeks before. Maley's teammate at Basalt, Furman-bound senior Sierra Bower placed fifth in 10:33.53.
Samantha McDonnell of Newbury Park shattered her previous best in rolling in with a 10:38.99. A week after her 4:55.27 for second in the mile at Meet #1, the junior placed sixth.
St. Helena senior Harper McClain did not eclipse her best of 10:29.68 (seventh-place at the 2019 State Championships) but came in with an impressive 10:39.52. Harper, still a relative newcomer onto the running scene, dazzled the crowd with her 45-second victory (over Mia Barnett) at the 2019 Division V State Cross Country Championships.
Anna Weirich from San Jose (CA) Harker and a UCLA recruit, placed eighth in 10:46.84, followed by Newbury Park and Adams State recruit Fiona Hawkins (11:08.79) Sage Creek junior Stormy Wallace (11:09.82)
INTERVIEW WITH MIA BARNETT