High school track: Park City's Ben Saarel and Ogden's Sarah Feeny break state records

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 10:40 a.m. MDT

Park City High's Ben Saarel smiles after winning the 3A boys 800-meter race at the 2012 Utah High School State Track and Field Championships last May in Provo.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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PROVO — Conditions were perfect at BYU on Friday morning for some record-setting track performances, and two of Utah’s best runners made the most of the opportunity.

Ogden's Sarah Feeny and Park City’s Ben Saarel each set new state records in the 1,600 meters to open the marathon two-day state track meet.

Feeny posted a time of 4:50.04 in the first race of the meet, winning the 3A race with a seven-second cushion over Cedar’s Aimee Bryson.

Feeny Broke the previous state record of 4:50.13 set at last year’s state meet by Mountain View’s Ashleigh Warner — who was on hand to watch her record fall. Feeny’s previous personal best was 4:51.43 set at the BYU Invitational two weeks ago.

“It’s fun to get PRs — that’s kind of one thing about running you’re always trying to improve yourself when you know you’re capable of that. You just need to keep pushing your goals higher,” Feeny said.

Feeny was behind state-record pace through three laps, but she picked it up the final lap to set the record. She credits running the 400 meters at the Region 11 championships last week with helping her mentality down the stretch.

About 30 minutes after Feeny’s record, Saarel stepped to the starting line with all eyes affixed on his record-pursuit.

Saarel is hoping to finish his career as the state-record holder in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and he already set the 3,200 record at the BYU Invitational two weeks ago. On Friday, he added the 1,600 record to his resume.

Despite a much slower 800-split than he wanted, Saarel picked up the pace over the final 800 meters to break the 4:09.28 state record set by Judge’s Luke Puskedra back in 2008.

“I’m really happy about that. Some great runners have come through here, and just to be running where they are is in incredible. I had (Wasatch’s) Talem Franco and (Ogden’s) Jordon Cross pushing me all the way,” Saarel said.

Despite the record-setting performance, Saarel was disappointed with his performance in general.

“I’ve got some things to adjust. It was a good race at altitude, but I definitely have some things to work on,” Saarel said.

The Colorado University commit will participate in the Dream Mile in New York next week, and he said he’ll definitely need to improve upon his performance if he hopes to compete with the best runners in the nation.

“I’m capable of doing a lot and putting in a really solid performance, wherever that puts me in the dream mile, great, it’s just a really good learning opportunity,” he said.

Saarel has spent most of the year focused on the pace required in the 3,200 and admits it’s not always easy to flip the switch to the intensity of the 1,600.

Other boys classification winners in the 1,600 on Friday morning were: Bingham’s Andrew Brewer in 5A (4:13.83), Timpanogos’ Jacob Heslington in 4A (4:12.22), Rowland Hall’s Eli Oftedal in 2A (4:29.83), Rich’s Vance Weston in 1A (4:32.64).

Girls classification winners were: Davis’ Shea Martinez in 5A (4:55.69), Herriman’s Lucy Biles in 4A (4:56.62), Rowland Hall’s Emily Sundquist in 2A (5:17.17) and Panguitch’s Whitney Orton in 1A (5:23.83).