There is just something about the LSU Last Chance Qualifier and the meet's ability to produce magical moments inside LSU's Carl Maddox Fieldhouse. Yesterday was no exception.
Last year, it was Zachary's Rhen Langley, who wowed the crowd with his 9:16 fieldhouse composite record in the 3200m.
Saturday, it was St. Joseph Academy's Elise Brown's turn. Brown shattered Kaitlyn Flattman's 13-year old meet record in the 1600m in a race she only led for the last 40 meters. Brown sat on Parkview Baptist freshmen Lucy Cramer, who took the lead early.
"I figured Lucy was going to lead," Brown said. "I just knew I wanted to stay right behind her, right with the front group and, hopefully, make a move in the last two laps. It took me a second to get around her, but she really, really pushed me. Without her, I would not have been able to do that."
Cramer congratulated her opponent after the race.
"Lucy came up to me and she was like, without you, we couldn't have done that (time)," Brown said. "I totally agree. That was such a race where we were pushing each other."
Brown did try to move past Cramer with 400m (two laps) remaining, but the freshman sensation, who went into Saturday with the Louisiana No. 1 time (5:03) and with her performance moved to No. 2 on the national list for freshman girls, found another gear--refusing to allow Brown to pass.
With 100m meters to go, Brown moved to Cramer's outside shoulder. As they came around the final turn, Brown emptied the tank moving past Cramer, who gave chase, but had to move around other runners being lapped in lane one.
With the performance, Brown moves to No. 2 on Louisiana's All-Time 1600m list, trailing only St. Thomas Aquainas' Malia Cali's 4:57.03 at the LSU Indoor Classic in 2009.
"It feels great," Brown said of running the No. 2 time in Louisiana history. "I wasn't expecting to be where I am right now--ever. To be where I am-- chasing these times feels fantastic."
After going home and eating lunch, Brown returned later in the evening for the 3200m, winning with a time of 11:00.51.
While Brown's time in 1600m did not surprise her coach, Mark LaHaye, he was surprised by what she ran in the latter race.
"I didn't expect her to have that much left in the tank," LaHaye said. "There were no expectations to run that time. I told her to try to stay with the lead pack. After the race, I asked her about going for it and she just said she felt good."
That was not the case before the race and during the early stages of 3200m.
"She started slow and had to work her way through the middle of the pack," LaHaye said.
With Brown coming so close to running sub 5:00 and sub 11:00, the coach took some kidding from his coaching friends.
"Tre' Hendry (Catholic) and Cullen Doody (Jesuit) texted me," LaHaye said. "They were like .09 (in 1660m) and .51 (in 3200m). C'mon, coach!," LaHaye said.
For Brown, it was mindset going in which helped her pull off the greatest indoor distance double in Louisianan history.
"I came in with the idea of trying to stay with the front pack," Brown said. "I didn't want to overly worry about it. I went home and ate lunch. I was like it's whatever. It's fine. I was trying to be really chill about it because I find I definitely run best when I'm not stressing myself out."
For her efforts, Brown was named the girls' Track MVP by meet management.
"It's kind of a shock," Brown said. "I wasn't expecting that. I knew these were a thing, but I've never heard of anyone getting them. I wasn't expecting it. It was a fun surprise."