The championship heat of the girl's 3200m is about to go off. And then, as if the stadium knew what was about to happen, the lights shut off. Some might say it was 'the calm before the storm'.
However, nothing can shake Madison Jones and Christian Balcer on race day... Even a race delay due to some electricity problems with the stadium lights.
Because on the night of June 11 at James Clemens HS, history was in the making. And nothing was going to stop it from happening.
The OLD state records in the 3200m were over a decade old... held by runners Cory McGee and Jake Raines. Raines went on to be a national champion in junior college and 2xNCAA Division 2 All-American, and Cory McGee currently runs professionally for New Balance.
And these 15 year old records held by elite runners went down on the Same Night... In Back-to-back races.
Ladies and Gentlemen... The SAME NIGHT in BACK-TO-BACK races!!! This is absurd. History was made alright, and it was made with a bang.
In the girl's championship race, Jones was seeded #15. However, she had plans to finish much higher than that. After a little bit of a slow start, Jones then dropped a 1:16 second lap to get back on pace. After 1200 meters in, she found herself in 13th place, with a slew of girls in front of her to catch... and that's exactly what she did.
Lap after lap, Jones was clicking off 1:20's. "Oh my goodness!! Another 1:20 lap Madison, you are running insane!!!", her coach yelled on the sidelines.
In a matter of 2 laps, Madison went from 13th to 7th, in RXC All-American position, and it looked like that was where she was going to stay. But, with 800m to go, Jones dropped another 1:20, and caught 6th place, who had about a 50-60 meter lead on her. All Jones needed was a 1:21 to get the record. She had a much bigger last lap in mind, though. After running the best splits of her life, Jones dropped a 1:14 last 400, which is 4:56 mile pace, and broke the record by 6 seconds, running 10:33 for 3200 meters.
That must have been all Balcer needed to see to motivate him.
As the gun went off in the Boy's championship section, Bacler, who is already the state record holder in the 5k, got out near the front early. He then found his spot on the rail, but with Balcer being so tall and lanky, got a little uncomfortable there as he was getting knocked around, spiked, etc. As a matter of fact, every time the front group came around the track, all you could hear was spikes 'clanking' against each other. So, Balcer then moved to the outside, out of trouble, which is where he stayed most of the race. However, even though he was staying out of trouble, he was then running a lot of extra distance, as he was as far as out as lane 3 for at least 1200 meters of the race.
However, against all odds, the 25th seed was still in it with 800 meters to go. And the top pack was winding down, changing gears and dropping the pace HARD. Balcer came up to about 500 meters to go, and was hanging on for dear life. But, even though every muscle in Balcer's body was begging for him to slow down, he refused, and dropped a 66 on the last lap to run 9:03 to nab the state record. Every lap that Balcer ran was in between 66 and 69 seconds, and he only split 1:09 once - the very first lap whenever the pack got off to a tactical start.
Balcer put absolutely everything he had into that race. In a post-race interview, when asked how he felt after the race on getting the state record, Balcer responded, "Terrible".
Balcer said that his initial goal was to break 9, but I think he will take a state record for now. Besides, he, as well as Jones and Long Beach upcoming senior Brooklyn Biancamano have another shot at a state record on Saturday. Balcer is back entered in the 1 mile, where he is one of the fastest in the 'slow heat' of the championship section with a 4:13. Jones is entered in the 800m, and Biancamano, who crushed heat 2 of the girls 3200m winning in an 11:10, is is entered in the 1 mile. Balcer already holds the state record in the 1600m with a 4:12, so he will be able to get one last crack at it. Jones has an indoor PR of 2:19 in the 800m, and McGee still boasts the 800m record with a 2:10. Biancamano's current PR in the 1600m is a 4:54, and is looking to break that, and has a good chance to do so. If she does, who knows how close she could get to the state record? As we saw on Friday night, some magical things can happen, and this meet is far from over.
3200m, Heat 5
Thomas Saunders, 10:27 - 3rd place
Lukas Dykes, 10:57 - 4th place
3200m, Heat 4
Christopher Eskesen, 10:51 - 17th place
The first Mississippi action starts at 5:40 PM, with Tupelo's Eskesen and Jaheim Bridges in the 800m.
Live results to the meet can be found HERE
The Meet Preview article can be found HERE
Lastly, follow the Mississippi MileSplit Instagram for live updates and coverage of the meet! The handle is simply "msmilesplit".