Distance duels highlight start of high school T&F season

Let the duels begin. Again.

Cross-country is in the books, but high school track & field is just getting out of the starting blocks.  And right away, several big names are going toe-to-toe and setting the tone for the rest of the season.

The first of many races between the state’s top distance runners got off to a great start over the weekend at the Desert Classic Invitational in Queen Creek, where Sherod Hardt edged out perennial rival, Brian Shrader, in the 1600m.  Hardt, runnng for Queen Creek HS, clocked a winning time of 4:11.49 and Shrader, from Sinagua HS in Flagstaff, ran a 4:14.80, just 1.5 seconds off his personal best time.

And five days later, Steve Magnuson from Ironwood Ridge HS in Tucson, ran the 1600m in 5:03.40 to win the event in a four-way meet at Ironwood.

We’ll be hearing a lot more about this trio of harriers as the season progresses.

Hardt, who comes from one of the most prominent families in distance running in the state, was ranked No. 5 in the Milesplit national Top 25 in cross-country this year.  He just announced his commitment to run at Michigan State.

Shrader, who won his third consecutive 4A-II cross-country title in the fall, also owns five state titles in track and field.  The Arizona Republic’s Boys’ Runner of the Year last season is headed for the University of Oregon next year. And Magnuson, who won this year’s 5A-II state cross-country championship, will be running for North Carolina.

On the girls’ side, Lauren Laszczak was also making an early impression at the Ironwood Ridge four-way meet, literally jumping above the competition.  The two-time defending champion won the long jump (14’11 3/4″), high jump (5’2″), and the triple jump (31’9″).

Laszczak competes for Ironwood Ridge HS, which ran away with the home meet, winning 12 of 22 running events and dominating both boys and girls running events.

The Nighthawks were especially strong – and deep – in the boys 100m race, where they took the top four places.  Tyler Williams won in a time of 11.09, followed by teammate, Adrian Brahler, in second place with a 11.12 clocking.

On the girls side, Sarah Miville won the 3,20om run (11:50), Abbey Barbera won the 400m (59.9), and Jaclyn Zibrat took the 200m in a time of 26.97.

Ironwood Ridge also swept the relays.  The girls 4×100 team (Jaclyn Zibrat, Melanie Zibrat, Laczczak, Cameron Barera) won in 52.54 and the boys 4×100 team (Tyler Williams, Trevor Wesley, Matt Priest, Adrian Brahler) won with a time of 44.44.

(Sherod Hardt photo: Margot Kelly/Milesplit)