Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
PROVO — During his 32 years of coaching, BYU women's track coach Patrick Shane has never seen anything like it. During the 1,600-meter girls finals at the BYU Invitational track meet Saturday, not one, not two, but the three top finishers all broke the Utah state record for the event.
Mountain View senior Ashleigh Warner edged out East's Natalie Shields and North Summit's Erica Birk with a time of 4:50.13 to win the event and put herself in the record books.
"What was done here today is unprecedented," said Shane. "Never in all my years watching this event, or any event, have I seen something like this. The runners you saw out there today are the best in state history and you may never see something like this happen again."
Shields set a furious pace early with Warner passing her late to take the victory, preventing Shields from setting her second state record in as many days. The day before Shields broke Rosy Gardner's 18-year state record in the 3,200 meters with a time of 10:22.89.
Of all the excited observers, no one seemed as animated as Shane, who has not just signed Warner, Shields and Birk, but also Bingham's Ashley Young, who finished fourth in the event. The foursome lead what Shane believes is the best incoming class he's signed over his 32 years coaching at BYU.
"There's no question that these are the best group of girls I've ever signed," said Shane. "I'm an old man, and it's getting time for me to retire here soon, but it's not going to be for at least another five years. I want to see all of these girls here in this program because there isn't a finer group of long distance runners, maybe in the country, I believe."
According to Shane the altitude-adjusted time, which is well-accepted nationally, would put Shields' 3,200-meter time at 10:08, which would put her at the top nationally.
"These girls have such great support from not only their coaches, but from their families — it's just incredible the talent that this state produces from year to year and this is the best I've ever seen," said Shane. "It's such a thrill for me, as BYU's head coach, to have the opportunity to coach such great potential as this. It's truly a blessing."
Davis High dominated the overall 3A-5A competition, scoring a combined total of 142.5 points over 36 events, outdistancing second-place Riverton by a full 38.5 points. Davis finished first in the men's competition with 80.5 combined points, while Bingham just edged out Davis in the women's 63-62.
North Summit overwhelmed the 1A-2A competition with a combined score of 174, which was 60 points ahead of second-place Grand County.
The fastest man in the state proved to be Pine View's Jake Arslanian, who placed first in both the 100 and 200 meters with times of 10.85 and 21.66, respectively. Arslanian narrowly missed out on a three-event sweep, finishing second to Riverton's Cole Lambourne in the 400 meters.
"That's the most fun I've ever had at a track event," said Arslanian. "I'm obviously happy with how I performed, but the atmosphere with all the schools there and running at the school I'm set to attend after high school — it was just a great weekend."
Arslanian was the Idaho state champion in both the 100 and 200 meters a year ago before moving to Utah. He committed to run track and to play football for BYU this past February.