Edward Cheserek Breaks Meet Record At Nationals

Edward Cheserk set a new course record at the New Balance High School Outdoor Nationals. Photo: SBP.org

Edward Cheserk set a new course record at the New Balance High School Outdoor Nationals. Photo: SBP.org

The Kenyan led wire-to-wire in the boy’s 5000m.

By Chris Lotsbom

(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

GREENSBORO, N.C. (17-Jun) — The 2011 New Balance Outdoor Nationals began with two record-breaking races here in Greensboro, yesterday, site of the 2011 USA high school outdoor track and field championships. On the first day of competition, the boys’ and girls’ 5000m races took center stage as the only running finals contested on the blue track on the campus of North Carolina A&T.

Edward Cheserek, a sophomore from Newark, N.J, led the boys’ race wire-to-wire, breaking the two year-old meet record in the process.  After taking the race out in a blistering 63-second first quarter mile, the Kenyan had the lead all to himself, extending his cushion to 90 meters early on. Hitting 1000m in 2:42, Cheserek was on pace to reach his goal of breaking 14-minutes.

“I was trying to go out very fast,” said the soft spoken athlete, who came to the United States last summer from Kenya.  ”I was trying to run 65′s and 66′s, and the mile in 4:25.”

By 3000m, reached in 8:31, Cheserek had slowed down slightly, tiring from the early pace. Though he was laboring, those behind him couldn’t seem to slim the gap.

“I was tired, it was hard,” he continued.  ”With nobody pushing the pace, it was tough for me.”

Eyes down, striding in clean form, Cheserek knew that a sub-14 minute race was out of the question by halfway. Because no one could maintain such a pace, there wasn’t anyone there to help Cheserek. But that didn’t deter him from taking a shot at the meet record, which was still within reach.  The record of 14:32.26, set in 2009 by Solomon Haile, would require Cheserek to buckle down in the last 800m, and finish strong through the tape.  That is just what he did, crossing in 14:25.74, breaking not only the meet record but also the national sophomore record (for second-year high schoolers), a mark just shy of ten years old.

“I was excited with my time today,” said Cheserek post-race. “I was feeling very tired, so I just wanted to finish the race.”

Cheserek will have a day of rest tomorrow before returning Saturday in the distance medley relay.

The girl’s 5000m was a tactical affair for Wesley Frazier.  Staying tucked in the lead pack early on, the sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., let others do the work leading, waiting for the right moment to move to the front.  After a 5:15 opening mile, the main group began to string out one by one until there were only four left: Frazier, Erin Finn, Krista DeCeault, and Haley Pierce.  Running consistent 79-second circuits, the group stayed within contact of one another.

As the stadium lights turned on and illuminated the track with four laps to go, Finn had moved to the front, with Frazier in tow.  The two separated themselves at that point, and it was clear that the eventual national champion would be one of these two sophomores.

With 1000m remaining, Frazier injected a surge that left even Finn in the dust.  Still picking it up as the bell sounded, Frazier was determined to etch herself a spot in the record books.  A 70.67 last 400m would do just that, as her time of 16:24.83 bested Julia Stamps’s sophomore record set back in 1995.  The time is better than Frazier’s previous 5000m personal best by more than 25 seconds.

“I felt like I’ve had really good training, and my times could be down to that,” said Frazier, who was running her first 5000m since placing fourth at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March.

Frazier isn’t the only one in her family seeing success on the track. Her sister, Ryen, who is only an eighth grader, placed third in the first heat of the 5000m.  Training together, the two have been able to push one another, she explained.

Frazier is slated to run the two mile Friday, and the mile on Saturday.

“It’s a lot, but I feel good about it,” laughed Frazier.

Action continues here today with many championship events, including the 100m/110m hurdles, 4x800m relays, and pole vault, amongst others.

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