Herb Wills , Guest columnist Published 11:19 a.m. ET Aug. 13, 2019
On Saturday morning, Aug. 10, Adam Wallenfelsz, George Escobar, and Jake Mazziotta were racing in Tallahassee.
During the spring of 2016, the three were competing for their high school track teams–Wallenfelsz at Leon High, Escobar and Mazziotta at Maclay School. Each had gone on to run track in college, with Wallenfelsz competing for Alabama-Huntsville, Escobar for North Florida, and Mazziotta for the Virginia Military Institute.
They weren’t wearing school colors, though, when they met in the Gulf Winds Track Club Mile at the 22nd annual Breakfast on the Track. The race was on the Maclay School track, familiar ground for Escobar and Mazziotta. But it was Wallenfelsz, the Leon alum, who left the track with the win, outrunning the field with a 4:43.92. Escobar and Mazziotta trailed in 4:45.74 and 4:47.80
“America’s Distance” is what one organization calls the one-mile run — which goes a long way toward explaining why that organization is called “Bring Back The Mile.” They would find a lot to like about the Breakfast on the Track, an athletics meet with a single event — the mile. The distance is popular enough that 187 athletes showed up to run the mile at the 2019 Breakfast on the Track. You couldn’t fit them all on the track at the same time, so the race had to be run in nine different sections. The fastest was the first section, which started at 7:45.
It was a tactical race. Connor Edwards, an incoming frosh at Lincoln High, took the field through the first of four laps in 1:14. The pack stayed tucked behind Edwards for another lap, after which Trevor Sununu took over pacing duties. With just over a lap to go, Tristan LaNasa dashed to the front of the pack. Mazziotta, Escobar, and Wallenfelsz went with him.
The three collegians left LaNasa behind during the final lap, reaching the homestretch ready to decide the title. A 4:17.02 1600-meter runner in high school, Wallenfelsz strode away from his rivals, charging across the line in a winning 4:43.92. Escobar and Mazziotta followed in second and third, then LaNasa fourth in 4:52.67. Nicholas Samuel, a Lincoln High junior, was seventh in 4:58.74, just ahead of Fairview Middle School eighth-grader Patrick Koon, eighth in 4:59.74.
After the first section had cleared the track, the runners in the second section were hustled onto the starting line. Zach DeVeau was first in that section, his 4:56.38 putting him fifth overall. Ann Centner crossed the finish line just behind him in 5:04.25, the first woman in the mile.
“I couldn’t go any faster,” said Centner. “I lost it on the third lap. But it was still a three-second PR. I hadn’t trained for the mile since 2012, so this year I did a 10-week training block.”
Those 10 weeks paid off. Centner’s 5:04.25 was faster than she had run at either the University of Georgia or Oconee County High, and it was the fourth-fastest women’s time in the Breakfast on the Track’s 22-year history. Brittney Barnes, running in section four, was second in the women’s standings and 29th overall with a 5:39.98.
Also in section four, Alyssa Terry edged Cecilia Bouaichi for the third women’s spot, 5:44.63 to 5:45.78. Terry and Bouaichi were 34th and 35th overall. Amanda Sava also cracked 6:00, taking fifth in the women’s standings with a 5:48.28. Eleven-year-old Clifton Lewis was the sixth woman, running 6:09.87.
Master runner Mickey Martinez ran 5:18.25 in section one, but the battle for fastest master runner was decided in section two. Michael Martinez took the honor, outkicking master runner Hong-Guo Yu 5:16.25 to 5:18.00. Martinez was a past Breakfast on the Track champion, winning the race in 2007. Angela Dempsey was the top woman master and twelfth female, 82nd overall at 6:37.54.
Pancakes were the breakfast portion of the Breakfast on the Track. Any hotcakes not eaten by hungry athletes were used in lieu of relay batons during the pancake mile relay, the meet’s postscript. The meet couldn’t be mistaken for the 2019 IAAF World Track & Field Championships, but whether or not you can get decent pancakes in Qatar, they won’t be running the mile.
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