By Christopher Hunt
Photos by Don Rich, Mary DiBiase Blaich, and Tim Fulton
Marielle Hall didn’t look at the clock once. That’s what she said. She didn’t look at the clock until she realized that she had a shot to break 17 minutes in her first indoor 5,000 meters.
That’s when the Haddonfield (N.J.) senior pressed the gas and put even more separation on a field that she had dropped 10 laps earlier to become the fifth high school girl to break 17 minutes, winning the 5,000 at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships Friday in 16:55.69, the fifth-fastest time in nation’s history.
“I feel that I’m a really talented runner,” she said. “I feel like I should be among the best. It’s nice to know that’s solidified.”
Hall is known primarily as an 800/mile runner. But the Texas-bound senior decided to try something new at NSIC. She’ll also run the mile Sunday.
“I really just wanted to do something at the end of the season that was different,” she said. “I wanted to challenge myself.”
Hall said she just wanted to get a feel for the pace and stayed with the leaders until about the 3-kilometer mark where she created some space on the pack, led by New Mexico’s Julia Foster. Once Hall pulled away, no one ever regained contact.
“I broke away from the pack a little early,” she said. “I wanted to go at a place that was comfortable. I just really wanted to feel the momentum.”
If anyone thought the result of the 5,000 was unexpected, they were probably awed by the 4x200. Cardozo, which leads the country in the event, was disqualified on a passing zone violation on the first exchange between leadoff Latiesha Philson and Ahtyana Johnson. It appeared Johnson took off early while Philson begun to tie up. Philson fell before she could even pass the baton.
But once Johnson, unaware of the disqualification, took off she pulled the team back into second and the Judges still managed to finish first, if not for the DQ. Speed City (Long Beach Poly, Calif.) was awarded the national title, winning in 1:40.45.
Cardozo assistant coach Ray James shouldered the blame for the botched handoff.
“We don’t practice baton passes enough,” he said. “That’s on me. That’s my responsibility. It’s the passer’s job to run hard all the way in, almost through the other runner and it’s the person taking the baton’s responsibility to be aware of the end of the zone.”
Medgar Evers was third in the race 1:40.77. But two events earlier, Kimberly Campbell, Camille Edwards, Nyanka Moise-Joseph and Shakele Seaton won the sprint medley relay in 4:03.03, the fastest time in the country this season on the heels of Seaton’s come-from-behind anchor leg. The team race in the seventh of eight sections and was forced to wait to see if the last heat better their time.
“That was nerve-racking,” Seaton said. “This is what we worked all season for. Running in the rain and snow, it was for this.”
There was another surprise in the long jump. Lorriane Graham of Springdale, Md. (Charles Herbert) popped a lifetime-best 6.16 meters (20 feet, 2.50 inches). Her previous best was 19-1.
“I got my knees up a little higher and I guess that was the difference,” said.
Jen Clayton of Suffern, the national leader, finished third with a jump of 6.03 (19-9.50). Her best is 20-5.75 this season. Graham had her best attempt on her fifth jump. She fouled her first two jumps in the trials and almost didn’t even advance to the final.
“I was a little nervous,” she said. “I just needed a safe jump. I haven’t been able to practice with all the snow. I didn’t’ even know my mark. I had to make a new one.”
Tara Richmond of Polytechnic in Long Beach, Calif., won the high jump, clearing 1.77 meters (5-9.75). Patrice Gates of Villa Rica, Ga., won the shot put with a toss of 13.69 (44-11) with Throw One Deep teammate Shelby Ashe of Marietta, Ga., second in 13.41 (44-0). Northstars (Cicero-North Syracuse) won the distance medley relay in 12:03.19.
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com.