This past weekend was huge for the distance events. We some of the first nationally ranked distance events of the indoor season, as well as some new state leads.
The day got kick-started for the distance events when Natalie Venkataraman of Baton Rouge High won the 1600m. This was her season debut, on top of an overall personal best for the 1600m. She crossed the line in 5:22.25, the third-fastest time of the season.
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In second was Lucy Cramer of Episcopal. The 7th-grader debuted her first-ever indoor race with personal best in the 1600m and the fourth-best time in the state. She finished with a time of 5:23.59. Ella Chesnut of Vandebilt Catholic followed up on Cramer's finish with her performance of 5:25.21.
For the boys, Rhen Langley of Zachary took home yet another win. He led a string of runners to the first sub-4:30 1600m of the season and ran another state lead with his time of 4:20.68. On top of that, Langley now sits at US #37 in the event.
Not long after the 1600m, Rhen Langley doubled back for the 800m and almost set a state lead with his time of 1:58.46, but still garnered a US #48 mark. Not only that, but he and his teammate, Lejaune George, swept the top two positions with a rare negatively split 800m race.
Breanna Becerra (middle)
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In the girls' 800m, Breanna Becerra of St. Thomas Aquinas set a new state lead with her indoor season debut. She crossed the line in a time of 2:22.27 and beat out the 800m champion from two weeks ago, Rachel Fereday of Dutchtown. She finished not far behind Becerra with the second-best mark in the state of 2:23.59.
Now what remains as probably the most impressive distance race of the night, was the girls' 3200m. Lily Garrett led wire to wire for a meet record, personal best, and brand new national ranking. She ran a US #27 with her time of 11:03.48 and took the meet record away from Carmen Carlos of Mobile Parks, which was set back in 2010.
Finishing second to her was Svenya Stoyanoff of Christ Episcopal. She ran a personal best with her time of 11:49, decimating her performance from the 2021 indoor season. In third was Hudson Roberts of C.E. Byrd, finishing just two seconds behind Stoyanoff with her time of 11:51. This was her first 3200m, as well as her first indoor meet ever.
The boys' 3200m took an unexpected turn when Mason Haley of Benton stole the win from the slow heat with his time of 9:48.23. He ran this effort solo and edged out Trent Wells of C.E. Byrd, who won the fast heat, by exactly a third of a second. Haley had a huge negative split of essentially 5:00 during the first mile and then cracked down to 4:48 for his second.
Mason Haley (right)
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Trent Wells took second with a valiant race, leading for the entirety of it. It is clear that Wells likes to run in front of the rest of the competition, as he contested the lead at the beginning of the 1600m earlier in the day. Cameron Bourgeois of East Ascension attempted to stay with Wells during the last quarter of the race but to no avail. He finished third with his time of 9:52.58.
In the 4x800m, Catholic High raised the bar by going toe-to-toe with Brother Martin. It was a close race until Catholic High's last two legs put the nail in the coffin. The Grizzlies' last leg ran a stellar 1:58 to take home the win, as well as scoring a national ranking of US #13.
Brother Martin finished second with an 8:25.09 and Belle Chasse came up with third with their 8:41.79.
The girls' 4x800m was stiff competition between St. Joseph's Academy and St. Louis in the first heat. St. Joseph's led the majority of the race and held a comfortable lead, but it was only at the end that St. Louis was starting to close the gap on them. St. Joseph's won with a time of 10:14.60 and St. Louis loosely followed at 10:18.54.
However, the most interesting part of this race came from the slow heat, with St. Thomas Aquinas claiming third overall and beating out everyone else in their heat by at least a minute. STA led the entirety of the race and it was clear that they belonged in a faster heat. Their final leg crossed the line in a time of 10:28.34 to secure the podium position.