Penn Relays: Alexis Franklin of Old Mill runs fastest 400-meter hurdles in U.S. this season


Lake Braddock’s Sophie Chase won the 3,000 in 9:37.86, the second-fastest time in the country this season. “It was the world” to win, said the All-Met cross-country Athlete of the Year. (Toni L. Sandys/THE WASHINGTON POST)
April 26, 2012

Alexis Franklin won the 400-meter hurdles at the Penn Relays on Thursday by running the fastest time in the country by a high school girl so far this season.

The Old Mill senior was too strong for the 20 other competitors at Franklin Field. She was first to the initial set of barriers and kept widening her lead with every jump before crossing in a personal-best 59.05 seconds.

Archbishop Carroll senior All-Met Kiah Seymour used a big move late and then a lean to steal second in 59.78 on the first day of the three-day meet.

Franklin’s time was the fastest championship time by an American since Nicole Leach of Pennsylvania won in 57.44 in 2005.

“I was really in my zone,” said Franklin, the reigning All-Met Athlete of the Year.

During seven hours of intermittent rain, hundreds of athletes cycled through 119 rounds of relays — they ran the 4x100, 4x400 and 4x800 — but no team from the area qualified for a championship final. Osbourn Park and Bowie came closest, reaching Friday’s large schools consolation final in the 4x100.

Franklin wasn’t the only area individual athlete reveling in accomplishment. Lake Braddock junior Sophie Chase won the 3,000 in a dazzling 9 minutes 37.86 seconds, the second-fastest time in the country this season. The All-Met left the field behind with about two laps to go and then powered to the line.

Sophomore teammate Hannah Christen was the last runner Chase shook loose. Lake Braddock nearly had a 1-2 finish against a national-caliber field but Christen finished third by .05 of a second in 9:42.97.

“It was the world” to win, said Chase, the All-Met cross-country Athlete of the Year. “Week after week, we work on pushing each other in practice. It was surreal we could come out and do this together.”

Franklin wasn’t feeling like a champion two weeks ago. The Ohio State signee suffered a rare loss in the 300 hurdles and she was running some of her slowest times in two years. She felt as though her body, which had always been so steadfast, was betraying her.

She pushed through a rough start on Thursday — Franklin chopped her steps at the hurdles and flailed her arms while going over them — and attacked the barriers, aggressively going over and bursting all the way to the country’s fastest time.

“I felt like I really fell in love with track again,” said Franklin, who accepted a gold watch, the prize awarded to individual champions, in front of an announced crowd of 23,075. “I was running with my heart and not my head.”

Georgetown Visitation won the girls’ prep school division of the 4x400. Jillian Murray, Moira Griffith, Emily Waddell and Sarah Wyckoff brought the baton around in 4:06.36.

Mountain View senior All-Met Kimberley Ficenec ran the fastest mile by a Washington area girls’ athlete this season, finishing sixth in 4:53.77.

In the field, South County junior All-Met Felecia Majors placed second in the pole vault at 12 feet 1.5 inches while Oakdale junior All-Met Emma King tied for fifth (11-9.75). Bowie junior All-Met Antonella Taylor placed third in the girls’ shot put with 46-0.5.

The boys’ meet begins Friday.

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