Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — Many eyes were fixed on the 800-meter races at the BYU Invitational on Saturday, and particularly the state-record pursuits of Davis' Shea Martinez and Park City’s Ben Saarel.
Their attempts ultimately came down to mere hundredths of seconds, with Martinez breaking her record by 0.03 and Saarel coming up short by 0.02.
Martinez ran a 2:08.45, eclipsing the state-record mark of 2:08.48 that she tied the week before.
“I’m excited that I did it today, but I still want to get faster,” said Martinez, a BYU commit. “I need to practice my kick a little more. It’s gone a lot better, but I still need to practice and hopefully get stronger so by the end of my 800 I have more to push.”
Martinez is hoping to run a 2:06 or a 2:07 at the state track meet in two weeks.
For Saarel, a day after shattering the 3,200 state record, his bid to set a new benchmark time in the 800 came up narrowly short. He ran a personal best with a time of 1:51.91, but it wasn’t quite good enough to break the 1:51.89 state record set by Davis’ Brad Nye last year.
“My hamstrings were pretty tight to start out, so I just tucked in behind and tried to relax the entire race. I‘ve been working on my speed and had some hard training recently. I think I have another gear in there, but it just wasn’t there today,” said Saarel, a Colorado commit. “It’s a new PR for me, so that’s great.”
In all, six overall state records fell at the prestigious 60-team BYU Invitational.
Along with Martinez’s record in the 800 and Saarel in the 3,200, Sky View’s Brenna Porter set a new record in the 300 hurdles, as did Bingham’s Bethany Foster in the pole vault, Woods Cross' Jacopo Spano in the 200 and Riverton’s 4x400 boys relay team.
Porter, who’s committed to BYU, had extra incentive with her future college coaches watching.
“I’m so excited 'cause that’s what I’ve been trying to get to to improve my scholarship to BYU. Hopefully I can keep it up to state,” said Porter, who didn’t run the 200 meters to focus on the 100 and 300 hurdles.
After winning the 100 hurdles earlier in the meet, Porter ran a 41.54 in the 300 hurdles, breaking her state record from 2012 by 0.71 seconds.
“It’s just exciting to put in a ton of hard work throughout the past year, so it’s cool to see things pay off,” said Porter.
Two other overall state records nearly fell too.
Woods Cross’ 4x100 boys relay team ran a 41.66, just 0.02 shy of the 1997 state record. Ogden’s Sarah Feeny, who won the 3,200 on Friday, posted a time of 4:51.43 in the 1,600 on Saturday, just over a second off the state record.
“I love these big meets. You get to see all the runners from the state that you become friends with,” said Feeny.
Overall, there were 20 2013-best times recorded at the BYU Invite, nine for the boys and 11 for the girls.
The boys top performances were: Woods Cross’ Jacopo Spano (200), Davis’ Trevor Leavitt (400), Park City’s Saarel (800 and 3,200), Timpanogos’ Jacob Heslington (1,600), Desert Hills’ Brad Wulfenstein (110 hurdles), Bingham’s Mitch Kalinin (pole vault), Jordan’s Christian Shaver (discus), Woods Cross (4x100) and Riverton (4x400) and American Fork (sprint medley).
Girls top performances were: Timpview’s Lauren Baxter (400), Davis’ Martinez (800), Ogden’s Feeny (1,600 and 3,200), Sky View’s Porter (100 and 300 hurdles), Bingham’s Foster (pole vault), Springville (4x100) and Davis (4x400).
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