In his first career individual race at season-ending New Balance Indoor Nationals, Westfield senior Nathan Kiley won his heat in the 800 meters on Sunday, finishing in a personal-best 1 minute 51.37 seconds. Then came the nerve-wracking part.
While shaking hands, Kiley watched as the runners in the third and final heat kicked toward the finish at The Armory in New York City and celebrated when the time stood up. Chris Ibarra of Atlanta, Tex., had to settle for silver, despite crossing first in that race in 1:51.40.
Kiley was the lone local champion at the three-day season-ending meet, and less than two hours later, the All-Met came back to run the 1,600 meter relay, anchoring the Bulldogs to a fifth-place finish in 3:19.69.
“I had no idea that I was going to have even the slimmest of chances of winning the 800,” Kiley said by phone Sunday. “I was thinking about placing in the top six to be an all-American. I hadn’t really considered I could be a national champion.”
Kiley said he was clocked with a 1:51 split running the 3,200 meter relay last spring at the Penn Relays and New Balance Outdoor Nationals, but he’d only run the open 800 four times in his career and never on such a grand stage.
On Sunday, Kiley, who took silver in the 1,000 meters at the Virginia AAA state meet, said his plan for the race got thrown off when James Buser of New Jersey pushed the pace. Still, he managed to keep close and surge ahead on the final lap, setting up his anxious wait during the final heat.
Elsewhere, Chantilly senior Sean McGorty finished second in his signature event, the two-mile, on Sunday in 9:02.02, three seconds behind Edward Cheserek of New Jersey. The five-time All-Met set the pace early, leading the first three-quarters of the race before Cheserek pushed to the front. McGorty dropped back in the lead pack to fourth at one point before a strong closing kick.
“I guess I just found that extra gear,” McGorty said. “It clicked that it was my last indoor high school race, so I wanted to make sure I left it all out on the track.”
In December, Cheserek, who broke the national high school record in the two-mile with 8:39 last month, also took first with McGorty second at Foot Locker Nationals in cross country.
McGorty also ran the anchor leg on Chantilly’s four-mile relay team on Saturday, which finished sixth in 17:34.57. He recorded the fastest split of anyone in the race, a blazing 4:08 that would have placed him in the top three in the open mile. The Chargers team included his brother Ryan, and McGorty called that relay “an experience I’ll never forget.”
Two weeks after lifting South County to the Virginia AAA title by placing in six individual events, Felecia Majors put her versatility into action on Saturday. The reigning All-Met Winter Track Athlete of the Year tried the pentathlon for the first time and finished third.
Indoors, the pentathlon features the 60-meter hurdles, shot put, long jump, high jump and 800 meters. Majors struggled a bit with the first two unfamiliar events but surged back with a strong showing in the jumps.
Competing against several athletes with prior experience in the event, Majors more than held her own.
“I thought it would be like any usual day for me, but it was actually really different,” said Majors, who placed third in long jump on Sunday and also competed in pole vault. “It was a little more tiring than I thought it would be.”
Other locals earning individual all-American status included Bowie senior Antonella Taylor, who finished second in the girls’ shot put with a throw of 46 feet 6.75 inches, and West Springfield junior Caroline Alcorta, thanks to a fourth-place finish in the girls’ two mile in 10:23.77.
Forest Park junior Mustaqeem Williams and Robinson senior Ayo Raymond both earned all-American distinction in the boys’ 60 meters. Williams followed up an impressive showing at the Virginia AAA meet with a fourth-place finish in 6.75 seconds, while Raymond crossed sixth in 6.87 seconds. DeMatha sophomore Darryl Haraway finished sixth in the boys’ 200 meters in 22.05 seconds.
Edison senior Anna Williams led a strong push from area athletes in the girls’ triple jump. She bested the jump that won Virginia AAA gold with a leap of 40 feet, 9.5 inches to take third, followed by Elizabeth Seton junior Javonne Antoine and McNamara senior Brielyn Rogers.
Three other area relay teams also earned All-American honors: the Oakton girls’ four-mile relay (second-place), West Springfield girls’ distance medley relay (second), Woodbridge girls’ 1,600 meter relay (third) and Edison boys’ 3,200 meter relay (third).