Distance races gone wild at the 2013 West Suburban Silver Girls Meet
By Michael Newman
It is the dream of the fan of the long distance races to go to a track meet and see a memorable race in each of them. Little did the fans know what was about to happen as they entered the Joe Newton Fieldhouse in Elmhurst for the West Suburban Silver Girls Conference Meet last Friday evening.
The 3200 Meter Run would be a dual between the top two finishers at last fall’s 3A state cross country meet, Madeline Perez (Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn) and Emma Fisher (York HS, Elmhurst). The two meet the previous week at a meet on the same track. In that race, Perez held the upper hand and beat Fisher by six seconds in the 1600 running 4:59. This would be the first time the two had raced against each other this year in the 3200 Meter Run.
Fisher’s strategy every time that she has run the 3200 this indoor season has been to take the lead at the gun and challenge anyone to try to stay with her. Kaylee Flanagan (Lake Park HS, Roselle) tried at the beginning of February but lost to Fisher by seven seconds.
The two went through the 1600 in an amazing 5:09. Right now on the Dyestat TFX Board, 5:09 would get you into the top 10…and they still had another 1600 to go. On this night, it was not a matter of if Fisher and Perez would lap the field, but how many times.
The second half of the race was a matter of Perez trying to take the lead . Each time that this would happen, Fisher would resist and pick the pace up a little more. This was the key to the race and why the times at the end were so amazing. When quality meets quality, you get quality times.
Fisher was able to resist one more final surge by Perez and held on to win in 10:26.06, the second fastest 3200 time in the United States. Perez finished in 10:28.18, the fifth fastest US time.
“I knew I wanted to be in control, so I took it out and led the race,” said Fisher afterwards. “Madeline was right there the whole time and tried passing a few times, but I was able to hold her off and out kick her in the end.”
“She knew the splits she wanted to hit, she knew the areas of her races she wanted to improve, she knew when to put in her surges,” said York Coach Annette Schulte. “She knew Maddie’s strategy from the previous week and had a plan to react. Emma knows her strengths and she had to make the decision to do what she does best before she stepped up to the line.”
Fisher and Perez would see each other again in the 1600 later in the meet. In the meantime, Emma Reifel (Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn) stepped to the track for the 800 Meter Run and wanted to put her stamp on for the evening.
This race was all hers as she took command of the lead within the first two hundred. Her margin of victory was eight seconds over Stephanie Urbancik (Downers Grove North, Downers Grove). Her time of 2:15.73 is the fastest time in the state this year.
Anticipation hit the fieldhouse again as Perez and Fisher headed to the starting line for the 1600 Meter Run. Joining them in this race would be Jill Hardies (Central HS, Hinsdale). The 1600 was just like the 3200. Fisher took the pace out. Every straight away Perez would move and Fisher would not let her pass. Hardies stayed back waiting for her chance to move. The problem was that she fell a little too far back. At the gun lap, it was Fisher and Perez again with Hardies about 10 meters back. It looked like it would be a another dual. Hardies started to pick up the pace on the back stretch and finally got close to the two runners.
The last 100 meters was racing at its finest. “It was a true classic seeing all three of them running their hearts out over the last 100 meters,” said Hinsdale Central distance coach Mark McCabe.
Fisher was able to hold on for the win. Hardies passed Perez in the final straight but could not pass Fisher. The York senior completed the distance double on her own track winning the 1600 in 5:06.17. Hardies finished in 5:06.35, Perez in 5:06.64. Truly an epic day in Illinois distance running.
“I took it out in the lead, and Madeline was right there the whole time.,” added Fisher. “She tried to pass on almost every straight away, or at least once a lap. In the last 150, Jill came out of nowhere and caught up.”
“Your story here is really about Emma Fisher,” a modest Perez said the next day. “She went out fast and led both races wire to wire. I ran with her throughout the 3200 and 1600. I put on surges, but every time she matched them. My congratulations go out to her. She ran 2 strong, strategic races.”
Without Perez in the race, would these races would have been that fast?
“I think she need to see herself as more than a good 3200m runner,” Schulte added about her athlete Fisher. “She needed to decide she was capable of competing with the best at both distances.”
I think everyone that left that track had that impression. Fisher is among the elite in the nation in the distances along with Perez and Hardies. It will be interesting this outdoor season when the three hook up again in what could be another memorable race.