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Historical Finish at District Race
April 14, 2012By Matt Malatesta of VYPE MAGAZINE - North Houston
Historical Girls Distance Races at 14-5A Championships
In many ways the girl’s distance races at the District 14-5A Championships were historical. With most of the state’s top-ranked female distance runners from the north-Houston area, something amazing was bound to happen at the District Championships. Five of the state’s top seven 1600m runners and four of the top eight 3200m runners attend either Kingwood, College Park, or The Woodlands high schools. Most are under-classmen. Since the last realignment all three distance power-houses are together in District 14, known as the “district of death” for girls hoping for a chance at the State Championship 1600m or 3200m races.
Topping the list of elite runners is The Woodland’s Madi McLellan who won State in the 3200m last year as a freshman. Sandie Raines from Kingwood placed third in State last year in the 1600m as a sophomore. Other seasoned State finalists include College Park’s Katie Jensen, The Woodland’s Katie Willard and Kingwood’s Catie Daigre. Some of the top emerging elite runners include College Park senior Claire Andrews, a University of Texas recruit, and The Woodlands junior Ashley Guidot, an already solid runner who has been making major advancements this season.
Tuesday night’s 3200m did not disappoint. As the gun went off the athletes left the start line uncharacteristically slow for the first 100m with three frontrunners side-by-side daring the other to take the lead. McLellan accepted the challenge and pulled ahead, quickening the pace as the crowd stayed closely packed behind her pacing the first lap in a blistering 78.8. The next four laps were relentless with the top six runners staying tight in 78.9, 80.3, 79.7, 78.6 with the rest of the field slowly spreading out behind. As they entered the sixth lap the front pack was starting to unravel with the leader McLellan picking up the speed to 77.4. Raines and Jensen stayed on her heals and Andrews was not far behind. The seventh lap went even faster at 77.1.
By the time the gun went off signaling the final lap, the leader picked up the pace yet again with only Raines staying close until the last 200 meters. McLellan polished off the final lap in 73.9 seconds, coming in with a time of 10:24.70 – the fourth fastest time ever run by a Texas high school female. Raines was less than four seconds back with 10:28.30 – the tenth fastest Texas time on record. Jensen held third with 10:37.83. They were the three fastest times run in the state so far this season.
McLellan improved her personal record (PR) by almost seven seconds and was over nine seconds faster than her state-winning time from last season. She was only three seconds back from The Woodlands school record and eighth in the U.S. this year. Raines was almost 24 seconds ahead of her PR and broke the Kingwood High School all-time record by almost nine seconds. Jensen improved her PR by 14 seconds and set a new College Park all-time record, breaking an earlier record which she already held.
Only the top three runners would advance to the Region competition. Claire Andrews finished fourth with a respectable 10:45.27, a national elite time and normally good enough to win a region championship. Catie Daigre, Ashley Guidot and Kerstin Sheehan all finished in under the 11:30 state elite standard.
Thursday night’s 1600m was even more stacked. As the gun went off Raines and Daigre immediately jumped to the lead and set a fast first lap of 70.6 into a light wind. But it wasn’t fast enough to shake off any of the top runners and they all entered the second lap still together. The paced slowed to 76.2 and McLellan moved to the lead in the last half of the second lap with Jensen following. Raines and Guidot paced the leaders through the third lap as the tempo picked back up to 73.3. McLellan ran the final lap in 71.3 and crossed the finish line with a time of 4:51.36 (Texas #7 all time). Jensen was right behind in 4:53.96 (Texas #18 all time). Raines and Guidot battled for third with Raines pulling ahead in the last 300m for a final time of 4:57.85.
The times were the first-, second- and fourth-fastest in state this season and all of the frontrunners set new PRs. Guidot finished fourth with 5:00.25. Claire Andrews was fifth with 5:00.39 and Katie Willard was sixth with 5:01.44.