Mile finishes in duel on the bridge
The best high school runners in Texas raced in the Congress Avenue Mile on Saturday morning , just a week after the UIL state track and field meet.
Connor Adams of Flower Mound High School outkicked the field in the boys elite competition, featuring the top 48 boys in Texas divided into four teams: north, east, south and west.
Marcus High School's Craig Lutz took the field through a relatively slow first quarter in 1 minute, 8 seconds, with Adams, Ethan Doherty (Boerne Champion), and Neil Smith (Southlake Carroll) tightly bunched in a lead pack.
But Lutz, one of the best high school runners in the nation, couldn't hold the pace as it quickened through a 2:10 halfway split. Adams began to assert himself, and Cedar Park's Parker Stinson moved into contention as the runners approached the three-quarter mark.
More often than not, this event is decided on the Congress Avenue Bridge, and Saturday's race was no exception. It was there that Adams and Smith pulled the pace down to rocket speed, when suddenly Doherty launched a blazing kick and took the lead.
Adams, running a smart race, allowed Doherty a brief moment in the lead.
But with the finish line only 75 meters away, Adams launched his own kick to break the tape in 4:07.69, a half-step ahead of Doherty's 4:08.09, to help clinch the win for Team North. Stinson grabbed third in 4:09.07.
"I couldn't wait anymore. I felt like they were slowing down," Doherty said of his kick. "I feel like I may have gone too soon, and sure enough, he got me at the end."
Adams, who will compete for the University of Miami next fall, said, "When Ethan made that move on the bridge, I didn't think I could take him. I was really tired. But when I get passed, I'm a real competitive guy. I don't like losing. You just have to be mentally focused."
In the girls race, Amanda Russell, a senior at Vista Ridge High School in Cedar Park, quickly made her way to the lead and paced the front runners, who included Rachel Johnson (Plano), and Colbea Harris (Argyle Richardson), through a brisk 1:15 quarter.
But by the time the halfway mark was passed in 2:22, Russell, competing on Team North, was alone out front.
She kept her lead to the finish, posting a strong 4:51.39. Russell easily held off Johnson, who pulled up second in 4:59.07, a step ahead of third-place finisher Meredith Gamble (St. Johns).
Zahri Jackson (Kingwood Park) was fourth in 5:00.45, and Sophie Blake (Kingwood) placed sixth in 5:03.01 helped Team East nail the win.
"I did a lot of road racing and triathlons when I was younger, so I'm used to running on the roads. I rested up for this race, and did everything right," said Russell, who will run for the University of Arizona. "I felt in control the whole race, and I didn't want to let up."
Though the race focuses on high school runners, open competition also boasted some fast times.
Houston's Adam Davis topped the men's elite field in 4:06.74, ahead of Baytown's Sesar Figueroa , who posted a 4:09.68.
Austin's Lennie Waite had the fastest women's time, 4:46, ahead of Liz Shelton's 4:55.