Note: The Footlocker Track and Field Championship is one of the top two high school meets in the United States. This year the event coincided with the Pontiac Grand Prix Track Meet, one of the USTAF Golden Spike Tour Meets (the Pontiac Meet was on Saturday, June 12th. The high school meet was the 11th and 12th). Ryan Deak, as you know, recently ran a 5K in 16:27, faster than the national age group record for 13 years old. This meet is a great effort by USATF and others to get exposure to the USA’s elite track performers for young runners. I asked Ryan to tell us about his impressions of the big meet and the races he saw. Ryan runs for Maclay High School. Here is his account.
As Dad and I left Tallahassee on our way for North Carolina for the Footlocker Track and Field Championship, I could already feel the excitement in the air. The first night we stayed in Atlanta at a Red Roof Inn. As we went for a run that night all I could think about is that someday I will be as good as these men. The next morning while we were eating breakfast, I noticed in the sports page that the track meet was in Raleigh, North Carolina not!!!(like dad thought) Charlotte, North Carolina. Our casual breakfast was out of the question. We quickly asked for the check and we were on our way to Raleigh. It was a long and painful drive, but Dad got us there only five minutes behind schedule.
The first exciting event, for us, on Friday was the girls two-mile. Erin Sullivan, cross country national champ, was the favorite to win. She did win the race, but only with an exciting last hundred-yard sprint. Her time was 10:17.67. After that was the main event- (as I like to call it) the boys two-mile. The boys two-mile had to be one of the best races I ever witnessed in my running career. The leaders hit the first mile in about 4:34. With three laps to go a sophomore named Dathan Ritzenhein took the led and never let it go. Dathan ran a powerful 9:01.77 to win a hard fought race over Jason Mueller. (Coach Droze clocked him at 2:05.5 for final 800) Dathan also competed in the distance medley (Rockford MI) and he led that team to a win. It was the same story on the girls side for Rockford MI with them winning the distance medley too. That is an unbelievable feat for any high school program!!! Worth noting, the national renown Florida (Atlantic HS) twins, John and Sean Jefferson finished 3-4 in the two-mile making it three sophomores finishing in the top 4.
The next morning before the track meet started dad and I went on a long, slow run through the scenic, woodsy North Carolina State University campus. After getting a smoothie and freshening up we went to the track again. The Golden Spike Meet was held between 4:00-5:30, with the Footlocker continuing at 6:00. The Golden Spike Meet was fun to watch. When at home watching a track meet you never get a feel for how fast the athletes are racing, however when you see the races up close and personal you really get a feel for it. The meet began with the introduction of the competitors running that day, which included Regina Jacobs and Marion Jones. Jacobs ran a very impressive 1:58 for the 800 which is the fastest time in the country this year. Between events they had autograph sessions and I wanted to be a part of it. After Regina finished doing a cool-down she came to the autograph table. Regina was the one person I really wanted to get an autograph from, so I cut in line and got it (don’t tell). As Regina was signing the photo of her I could not hold back from telling her about the national record, I broke recently. (Can you blame me?) She congratulated me and shook my hand.
Adding a special touch to the competition, Jamie Ostrov a recent graduate of Maclay competed in the long jump. With Coach Droze and beau Justin on hand, Ostrov made it to the finals. She placed ninth with a jump of 5’5″. Congrats Jamie!! Good luck at GA Tech. Later that evening was the boys mile. I can’t tell you much about the mile because I was to busy watching the pole vault (sorry Dad), but I can tell you that the pace was controlled until the last lap. Brendan Mahoney won the mile in 4:04.78 which was the third fastest time in the meet history. Mahoney started his kick with 200 yards to go and ended up running his last 200 in 27.1. (He has clocked a sub 1:51 800 meters.) Finishing second was a sophomore named Alan Webb. Webb ran a 4:06.94 breaking Jim Ryun’s sophomore class record of 4:07.8 which he ran in 1963. That is a 36-year record. Wow!!!