Anderson wins 3,200 by 30 seconds
AURORA – One by one, they walked by and stared at her.Their silent yet magnetized eyes told a story not often seen at high school sporting events. “There she is,” their expressions seemed to say. “That’s Whitney Anderson.”As odd as it may sound, this was the postrace scene at Friday afternoon’s state track and field championships at Legacy Stadium. Anderson, the Summit High School senior, had just won her fifth career state championship – and fourth in Colorado – in blowout fashion.She toasted the rest of the 4A field, defending her 3,200-meter (2-mile) state title in 11 minutes, 28.41 seconds, more than 30 seconds ahead of her closest competition. Then, in an ode to her growing legend – one that could get even bigger after today’s 1,600 state race, in which she will again be defending her state title – the defeated challengers gawked at greatness.
Despite the reverence, Anderson herself was surprisingly disappointed after the victory. She had plans of breaking her own state record (11:03.61), but sweltering heat and a stiff south wind rendered those hopes virtually impossible.”I kind of was intimidated and bothered by the hot weather,” Anderson said. With some metro area thermometers hitting the low 90s, Friday’s conditions were about as poor as can be for a distance runner trying to break a state record. (When Anderson broke the 14-year-old, 3,200 state record last year, she did it on a cool, calm day.)Still, the crowd did its part to help her get it. In a testament to the reputation Anderson has earned, many of the 1,000 or so spectators started cheering for Summit’s harrier by her first name as she tore toward the finish. They did the same thing last year when she surprised everyone with the distance sweep at Jeffco Stadium.Anderson’s personal coach, Lyle Knudson, said Anderson did the right thing by attacking from the beginning. After one lap, she led the 18-runner chase pack by 40 meters. Even at that time, the race seemed all but over.
“We wanted to run fairly aggressively, because you don’t know how (the other runners) are going to respond,” said Knudson, who has coached seven track Olympians, and who has coached Anderson since she arrived in Summit from Alaska a year and a half ago. “She ran the race like we wanted to run, but there was just no way she was going to run a fast time in these conditions.”As for the rest of the field, Knudson said their strategy was justifiably opposite of Anderson’s. “I think the (other) coaches were smart to tell their athletes not to run too aggressively,” he said. “There was really nobody capable of running with her, and they were smart not to try.”Anna Lieb of Golden (11:59.03) edged Mountain View’s Ashlyn Rhule (11:59.52) in an entertaining race for second place; they were the only ones joining Anderson under 12 minutes. In fact, Anderson lapped three of the 18 other runners in the field.
In that regard, proving herself among her competition, she met expectations.”She did what she needed to do out here today,” Knudson said, “and that was to win another state championship and make an impression on people.”Finish line: Anderson goes for her second straight distance sweep today. The 1,600 race starts at 12:15 p.m. … SHS sophomore Braden Shoop, a surprise state qualifier in the high jump, will compete at 12:30 p.m. today … Among the number of state records set on Friday, one stood a little taller than the rest. Montbello’s Chelsea Taylor cleared 6 feet, 1/2 inch in the high jump – only 2 1/2 inches off Olympian Amy Acuff’s national high school record.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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