DUBLIN -- Ashlyn Boothby picked out another sombrero from the selection on the table on the infield at Dublin High School. The Scotts Valley (CC) junior had just won the elite heat of the 3,200 meters at the Dublin Distance Fiesta. She handed the hat to her teammate, Rafaela Putnam, and knelt to the field.
Putnam performed a brief ceremony and then crowned Boothby.
There was no question on Saturday that Boothby was the queen of the Fiesta.
Early in the day, she won the 1,600 in a personal-best, school-record four minutes, 49.29 seconds. That now ranks second in California. Reno (NV) Galena sophomore Eleanor Raker was second in 4:55.77.
"I got an early lead and just kind of went for it," Boothby said. "It was really awesome getting to race with such a stacked field with so many talented runners. I was super-excited to get a PR."
She then drove home, chilled out and got stuck in traffic coming back to the meet.
"I drove home, (it was) kind of a long drive," she said. "Like an hour and a half. I chilled out for a bit. I got back in the car and headed back over. But we got stuck in traffic for three hours so it was a little stressful.
"But we made it, everything was fine, everything worked out, it was awesome."
Boothby then ran 10:26.12 to win the 3,200, again a personal-best and again a school-record. The time ranks third in California.
She looked fresh coming off the track but said she was tired.
"The adrenaline is still running right now, so I'm super-hyped," she said.
In the 3,2000, Boothby was content to hang out in second and third place behind Raker through the first four laps before taking control of the race. Alhambra (NC) junior Renae Searls finished strong to take second in 10:32.89.
"There was no use trying to lead the whole thing," Boothby said. "I already raced today, I'm not on fresh legs. I'm just going to let everybody else do the hard work lead and I'll just sit on them until I want to go. I feel like I could have gone even a little harder, but not being on fresh legs, it was good enough."
Boothby said she's aiming to lower her times to the point that she can go to the top-level colleges. She said she'd like a 4:45 in the 1,600 and 10:10 in the 3,200.
The rain stayed away on an overcast day and evening in Dublin. The biggest surprise was probably Piedmont (NC) senior Parker Long outkicking the field to win the boys 800 in 1:53.25. Long was originally seeded into the penultimate race, but a slot opened up a couple of hours before the final race. Long said he was extremely nervous. Until the gun went off.
"It kind of all went by at once," Long said, looking a bit dazed at his victory. "I stuck behind that front group. I saw we went by in 57. Over there on lap two, I just felt good. And I noticed people start to drop back. I thought, 'I think I have a shot at this.' I've had a lot of experience in the 4x4, so I knew I had the speed for it. I just went for it. That last 100, I don't even know what happened. I was just going for it, then I crossed the line and it still, it hasn't really sunk in what happened.
"I was seeded not even in the faster heat. I didn't think I'd ever be winning today."
The Menlo School (CC) senior Justin Pretre was second in 1:53.68 with St. Mary's (NC) senior Mateo Malko-Allen in third in 1:54.40.
Earlier, Malko-Allen repeated as champion in the boys 1,600, winning in 4:13.40. Malko-Allen was seeded fourth coming into the race.
"I really wanted to defend that title," Malko-Allen said. "My plan was to sit on that leader and wait til 400 to go to make my move."
Albany (NC) junior Lucas Cohen was second in 4:15.37 with Pioneer (CC) sophomore Carson Hedlund third in 4:15.73.
Monte Vista (NC) senior Cate Peters won the girls 800 in 2:11.04. She was paced through the first lap in about 1:02 by sophomore teammate Cate Miller. Peters then took off and pulled away from the field. She was happy with her 800 debut for the season, earning her third consecutive sombrero in the event.
"It was a really good race, I felt solid about my execution," Peters said. "I was able to close out the race. I want to work on my last 200 meters. I felt that was where I lost my momentum. But overall I was really solid with my time and it was a great execution of my strategy."
Peters has missed the California Interscholastic Federation championships the past two years, once due to COVID-19 and then last year due to a foot injury. So her goals are making it to the State Meet rather than focusing on a time.
Peters had her two previous sombreros on the field with her.
"Dublin Distance Fiesta is where I ran my first 800," she said. "Coming back here as a senior, I wanted to come full circle and get that third win and give my thanks to Dublin because I didn't want to run the 800 when I first started, I was a sprinter, I was unsure. This atmosphere, the music, made it a really fun experience and from that point I decided that maybe the 800 could be my race. The next year, it really became that."
College Park (NC) senior Jessica Chisar was second in 2:16.87.
Peters's Monte Vista teammate Ethan Miller won the boys 3,200 in 9:00.73, edging Redwood (NC) senior Daegan Cutter (9:00.91). The two seniors had a furious battle down the stretch after the lead pack had stuck together through seven laps.
"I did my best to try to stick with everyone," Miller said. "The whole field is super-talented and I actually couldn't have asked for better competition. Everyone was a little cautious about going out too fast. I think we wanted to go out pretty fast but no one wanted to take it out and go out too fast in the first mile and then die."
Damin Esper is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to MileSplit.
Photos by Dan Tyree