On a wet, rainy night, parents and athletes alike took shelter in the Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah. Despite a few timing hiccups and smaller field, those that were able to brave the elements were rewarded with a number of spectacular performances at Friday night's Distance Challenge.
Kicking off the night's festivities was the Girls 1600m. With the absence of Bingham's Whitney Rich and Provo's Kate Hunter, the battle for the race fell on the shoulders of Aubrey Argyle of Davis and Sara Musselman of American Fork. While a lead pack of four came through 800m together, by the final lap, it was a two-horse race. At the start of the bell lap, Musselman threw in a series brief surges, which Argyle absorbed, then, with 200m to go, responded with a punishing kick to the finish. Argyle, the University of Utah commit, would ultimately finish in a US#20 time of 5:02.19 with Musselman cruising home with US#41 5:06.48. Rounding out the top three was Lone Peak's Allie Bybee in 5:11.88.
Without the ferocity of pace and depth of the UHSTCA 1600m, Friday' night's Boys 1600m emerged as a more tactical endeavor. A large pack glided through the first lap in a brisk but tempered pace. Over the next 200m; however, the front runners jockeyed for position, looking to connect with teammates to connect with for the middle portion of the race. By the midway point of the race it was Ogden's Travis Feeny leading the way with two Lone Peak runners on his shoulder and teammate Garrett Barton not far behind. While Barton would ultimately fade later in the race, Feeny withstood the moves from the Lone Peak duo and even a late race surge by Spanish Fork's Heston Andersen to take home the win in another US Top-20 time of 4:19.94. Zack Ericksen from Lone Peak finished in second with a US#25 4:21.69 with Andersen just behind in a US#33 4:22.16.
In the Girls 400m, it was Sami Oblad of Stansbury who ultimately dominated the field, winning over second place Becky Swanson of Davis by a commanding two-second margin (57.96 and 59.84, respectively). Finishing in third, was another Davis Dart Ruby Jane Mathewson (59.95).
While Chris Kauffman returned to this year's Distance Challenge with a solid 51.48 performance, he was ultimately bested by Olympus' Muss Mahitua (50.40). Rounding out the top three was Connor Lehr of Northridge with a time of 51.55.
With Aubrey Argyle and Sara Mussleman electing to focus on the 1600m, the 800m race was left wide open for a surprise performance. That surprise came from Michelle Pratt of Blackfoot, Idaho who blitzed the field in a US#24 2:16.19. Leading the chase on Pratt was 8th grader Carlee Hansen of Muellar Park Junior High who ran an incredible 2:19.28. Rounding out the top three was Kate Duckworth of Olympus.
The Boys 800m. like the 1600m, lacked the depth of UHSTCA field and previous Distance Challenge fields, but it didn't seem to affect Haden Penrod of Springville. On the heels of his US#4 1:53.33 performance at UHSTCA two weeks ago, Penrod stormed through the first 400m in under 53 seconds, immediately establishing a sizable gap on the rest of the field. Penrod held things together over the final 400 and ultimately broke the tape in 1:52.61-a new personal record, meet record, Utah High School Indoor record, and US#3 time.
Leading the chase pack was Chris Kauffman of Skyridge, who, during his 400-800-3200 Triple put together a stellar time of 1:57.58. Behind Kauffman was Dylan Tidwell of Bingham with a 1:58.09.
What initially looked to be a conservative battle between Springville's Julie Sumsion and Weber's McKenna Lee quickly became a one-man race and demonstration of mental fortitude as Sumsion pulled away from Lee about two laps into the race. Throughout the race's remaining five, Sumsion, a BYU commit, continued to grow her lead, and ultimately finished in a solid 11:19.03 to Lee's 11:26.57. Behind Lee was Clarissa Mantz of Skyview in 11:44.38.
The last act on the night held the most impressive performance. With a late start time, ACT Testing only a few hours away, and "cosmic ice skaters" waiting anxiously in the lobby, Weber's Talon Hull put on a show in the Boys 3200m. Right from the gun, Hull's trademark, quick stride motored him around the 440m track with a comfortable confidence en route to an incredible 9:06.74-- besting the current US#1 time by nearly nine seconds. The time also marks a significant PR for Hull and shatters the existing Meet Record by almost 17 seconds.
While Springville's Grant Gardner shadowed Hull for the few introductory laps, the pace ultimately proved too hot and Gardner soon found himself alone-separated from the field and losing contact with Hull. To the youngster's credit, he would hold strong and finish in a US#28 9:27.13. Edging out Gardner's Springville teammate for third was Davis' Seth Stromberg in 9:41.48
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