Here we are again, recapping a very fine weekend for Santa Clarita Valley distance running. From Lauren Fleshman and Shannon Murakami’s return to the track to Sabrina Janes and Samantha Ortega’s impressive sub-five-minute clockings in Temecula, runners impressed all around Southern California last weekend. Here’s some highlights:
1. Can anyone stop Lizzy Nelson?
LizzyNelson does it again, this time over 1,500 meters! Over the weekend, the Glendale College standout and former Saugus junior varsity runner won the event at the Occidental Distance Carnival, clocking a mind-boggling 4:33.65 mark that converts to 4:53.76 for 1,600 meters and now ranks #7 in SCV history. See below:
4:05.62 Lauren Fleshman, OTC Elite, 2007
4:21.44 Nancy James, Cal State Northridge, 1999
4:25.10 Shannon Murakami, UCLA, 2010
4:28.43 Alysia Johnson, Bay Area Track Club, 2009
4:28.86 Grace Zamudio, Glendale College, 2013
4:32.23 Alyssa Selve, Adams State University, 2013
4:33.65 Lizzy Nelson, Glendale College, 2014
4:33.68 Jennifer Owen, UCLA, 2013
4:34.21 Brooke Russell, Princeton University, 2009
4:35.91 Lauren Walker, Harvard University, 2009
Nelson is also the #1-ranked junior college female in the country by over 8 SECONDS. Last week, we stated that she was a contender for the 1,500-meter state junior college title in May. Now she’s the heavy, heavy favorite. Can anyone stop Nelson from making history? … There’s really not much more we can say about her performance. The time speaks for itself. Lizzy Nelson running 4:33.65 for 1,500 meters is simply magnificent!
.2. Fleshman, Murakami post big 5K marks in returns to the track
Lauren Fleshman and Shannon Murakami, the two greatest distance female runners in Santa Clarita Valley history, making their returns to the oval on the same day is a coincidence. For Fleshman, her 15:53.02, despite a quick 4:50 opening mile, at the Sydney Track Classic in Australia marked her first 3.1-mile race since she ran in the U.S. Olympic Trial Finals in June 2012. As for Murakami, the UCLA graduate ran a big personal best of 16:17.47 in winning at the Ben Brown Invite in Fullerton, her first track race at any distance since running in the 2011 Pac-10 Track & Field Championships. Her former best was 16:28.97, set four years ago. Returning to Saugus head coach Rene Paragas after a seven-year hiatus is obviously paying off. Might we see a sub-16-minute performance by Murakami at the Mt. SAC Relays in April? Fleshman is the only one in SCV history to accomplish the feat, having set the valley record (14:58.58) in 2008.
3. Chris Low breaks 1:50, just misses the oldest SCV record in the books
We knew Chris Low was back after he clocked 1:52 (indoors) in his first 800-meter race since running for College of the Canyons in 2012. But 1:49.43 in his first race of the outdoor season? That’s some impressive stuff. For a third time, Low, now competing for Long Beach State University, just missed the oldest SCV record in the books – Chuck Kirkby’s 1:49.06, set way, way back in 1955. The former Canyon runner also ran a personal best of 1:49.16 at the 2012 California Junior College Finals and 1:49.44 at the Stanford Invite in 2012 as well. It’s only March, so we’re expecting a couple more attempts at the above record this spring.
4. Zamudio’s track season with Loyola Marymount turns around quickly
After an incredible career with Glendale College, Grace Zamudio had a rocky start in her first track season with Loyola Marymount University. That all changed on Saturday, though, as Zamudio finished fifth at the Brown Invite, clocking an impressive personal best of 16:45.47, about six seconds faster than her winning mark from a year ago. The other two races she ran this year were off days, as she ran 10:11.24 for 3,000 meters on February 14th and 10:02.14 on March 8th.
5. Saugus quartet continues to impress in 2014
For the second consecutive week, the Saugus quartet of Ashley Heys, Brian Zabilski, Sabrina Janes and Samantha Ortega had a big weekend. At the Great Oak Distance Invitational, Janes won the 1,600-meter event in a meet record and big personal best of 4:55.44, while Ortega finished fifth in 4:57.12. Those two marks now rank #11 and #13 in SCV high school history, and #8 and #10 in school history. In the same race, teammate Heys took sixth in an all-time best of 5:08.57, showing a sub-five-minute performance could be in the near-future.
The three returned for the 800-meter event, where Janes set an SCV-leading mark of 2:17.40, while teammates Ortega and Heys clocked 2:21.06 and 2:22.98, just of their personal bests of 2:20.90 and 2:21.00.
On the boys side, Zabilski won a slow 1,600-meter race in a another all-time best of 4:24.10, blazing a 60-second last lap, then, returned to set an 800-meter best of 1:58.96. Expect Zabilski to challenge Dave Hartman’s SCV 3,200-meter junior record of 9:06.28 at the APU Distance Meet of Champions this Saturday night.
6. The Redondo Union Distance Carnival was a barn-burner
There were a lot of big marks posted in Redondo Beach, beginning with a blistering 3,200-meter invitational on Friday. Six Foothill League runners broke 10 minutes, led by Bailey James 9:33.81 and Ashton Garcia’s new West Ranch school record of 9:38.30. The big surprises of the six came from Ryan Painter and Ruben Rubira, though, as the two clocked 9:50.90 and 9:51.80 over eight laps. For Painter, it was a big all-time best, while Rubira’s performance marks the second best time of his career. The next morning, Hart returned in fine fashion over 1,600 meters. James, Andrew Orona and Ryan Ortiz ran their second personal best within a few hours, clocking 4:20.97, 4:26.61, and 4:26.92.
Saugus junior Jonathan Summer enjoyed two big personal bests over 1,600 and 3,200 meters as well, running 9:37.41 and 4:29.70 within a couple hours.