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Frazier, Forbes and Westbrook Cap Day Three of New Balance Nationals

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/HighSchool   Jun 17th 2012, 3:54pm

By Chris Lotsbom - used with permission.

GREENSBORO, NC (16-Jun) -- Three athletes separated themselves from the rest of the competition on Day Three here at New Balance Nationals Outdoors, completing the three day meet in grand style. Massachusetts's Carla Forbes and Arizona's Ky Westbrook picked up a pair of titles each, while North Carolina's Wesley Frazier earned a grand total of four All-American certificates, capping off a championship that will be remembered for a long, long time. Not only were there individual accomplishments, but a handful of relays surpassed expectations by setting meet records and earning exciting wins.

Of the three previously mentioned individuals, Frazier leaves Greensboro the most decorated, with one gold medal, one silver, one bronze, and a come-from-behind fourth place that garnered another piece of hardware.

Starting Thursday, Frazier finished third in the 5000m, then came back 25 hours later to win the two mile in 10:13.43. Leaving the track tired on Friday night, Frazier said she hoped to return and finish on the podium two more times on Saturday. The 16-year-old did just that, placing second in the mile and fourth in the distance medley relay.

Finishing less than three seconds behind Kelsey Margey, the mile winner, Frazier skipped the mile awards ceremony to return to her Zussen TC teammates, who were preparing to take the track for the distance medley. Only twenty minutes separated the two events.

"I was pretty much beat at that time," said Frazier. "I was like 'I don't have much left now,' but I just needed a little break before I did another mile." She would take the twenty minutes to get water, stretch out and get back to the starting line.

When Ryen Frazier, Wesley's sister, led off the distance medley with a solid opening leg, things looked very promising. But as powerhouse Ridgewood TC picked the pace up towards the front, Zussen TC was shuffled back. Sisters Julie and Carole Verdru did their best on the next two legs, trying to keep the team in contention. Carole would hand off to Wesley in ninth place. It was time for her final mile of the weekend. 

That was when Wesley turned it on. Again. Drawing from friends and teammates in the stands -- some holding signs, others blowing vuvuzelas and screaming encouragement -- Frazier began picking runners off one by one. Before the junior knew it, she was in fourth rounding the final bend. 

"I wanted to get in the top six, I really wanted our team to get there [on the podium]," said Frazier. But she wasn't done yet. Making a valiant effort for third, Frazier came up just a quarter of a second short. The finish was still good enough for another medal and All-American honors (the top six finishers in each event receive such recognition). 

"I'm so proud," said Wesley's sister, Ryen, moments after the victory. Placing the medal around Wesley's neck, Ryen cracked a warming smile. "She knew that she had to make up a lot. We all really wanted it, and she knew she could do it...I was really happy for her." 

The win was especially meaningful for the Verdru sisters. The pair, who moved to Raleigh four years ago and began competing with the Frazier's on the Ravenscroft High School team, were running their final race in America. Tomorrow, the Belgium-natives will move back to The Netherlands. It was only fitting that the relay team - made up of two pairs of sisters - was titled Zussen, Dutch for the word sisters.

"We never imagined anything like this," said the younger Verdru, Julie, who ran the 400m leg. "Running with the Fraziers, it is such an honor." 

If the Zussen TC story was heartwarming, so was that of jumper Carla Forbes and sprinter Ky Westbrook. Forbes, a junior from Hyde Park, Mass., captured the long jump championship today, adding to her national title in the triple jump from Friday.

"It feels good, I've never had a double at Nationals," said Forbes. Wearing the same smile that was visible a day prior, Forbes was excited for what her senior year may hold.

"It's definitely a good foundation for next year. I can definitely set my goals a little higher and just hope to do bigger and better." 
Westbrook, competing in her first New Balance Nationals competition, won the 200m this evening; the sophomore from Chandler, Ariz. had taken the 100m title on Friday as well.

"I was nervous because there was so much good competition here, especially in the 200m. It feels so good, I never thought this would happen," said Westbrook.

Similar to Frazier and Forbes, Westbrook will be a busy girl at next year's competition. She hopes to contend for titles in not only the 100m and 200m, but also the heptathlon.

"Pretty soon it will be time to start training for that!" exclaimed Westbrook.

Other highlights from Day Three came in a pair of meet records in the shuttle hurdle relays. The boys of Western Branch (Va.) and girls of Long Beach Poly (Calif.) broke existing meet records of 59.15 and 59.28, respectively. For Western Branch, the win was extra special, as it made up for a disappointing New Balance Nationals Indoor Meet three months ago, when the quartet was disqualified due to a hurdle violation. 

"It's definitely redemption. We've worked for this," the quartet, made up of Aaron Simpson, Jamal Burris, Henri Thomas, and Terrance Ricks, noted. Running into a stiff wind on two of the legs, the team clocked 57.81 seconds, the 11th fastest ever run in high school history.

The girls from Long Beach Poly won their Shuttle Hurdle Relay in 58.88. Traci Hicks, Tori Myers, Kymber Payne, and Tierney Russell said winning the national title made all the hard work -- and six hour flight from California -- well worth it.

"We came a long way, so we wanted to break that meet record," the team said, nearly in unison. "Even though we didn't get the [national] record, we still got the meet record so we are happy with that." 

In the field, Throw1Deep's Avana Story won the Championship Hammer Throw with a heave of 50.38m (165-03 feet); she was also the New Balance Nationals Indoors champion in the weight throw. 

With three throws over 200 feet, East Brunswick, New Jersey's Sam Mattis successfully defended his Championship Discus title from a year ago. 

For full race results, videos, and pictures, plus much more, check out www.facebook.com/newbalancenationals. 

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