High school track: Park City's Ben Saarel breaks 5-year-old state record in 1,600 meters

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 6:50 p.m. MDT

Park City's Ben Saarel paces himself as he runs in the 1,600 meters at the state track meet Friday, May 17, 2013 at BYU. Saarel set a new state record in the event.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — Park City’s Ben Saarel had to be reminded that he’d just broken a prestigious state record.

As he was being interviewed following his 1,600-meter win at the state track meet Friday morning at BYU, Saarel talked about his slow first two laps and how he didn’t pick up his feet on the third lap and how his 4:07.95 time in the 3A race didn’t feel that satisfying.

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

Such is the life of an elite runner. Saarel was putting the race in perspective about how he hopes to perform at next week’s Dream Mile race in New York.

“Obviously you’re really happy to win the state record, but I’m trying to progress further and further. I thought I was capable of going really fast today, but things weren’t clicking all the way,” said Saarel.

It’s scary to think how fast he might run if things were clicking. In what he termed an off day, Saarel still ran fast enough to break the state record time of 4:09.28 set by Judge’s Luke Puskedra back in 2008.

When reminded that he broke that record, Saarel quickly reflected positively on his performance.

“I’m really happy about that. Some great runners have come through here, and just to be running where they are is in incredible,” said Saarel, who will run for the University of Colorado next year. “It’s nice to have the final time in Utah 'cause it’s an awesome running community, but it’s also nice to know there’s something else to move on to.”

Saarel is hoping to finish his career as the state-record holder in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and after Friday’s race the only record he’s still chasing is the 800, which he’ll run Saturday.

Other state champs in the 1,600 meters early Friday morning were Bingham’s Andrew Brewer (5A), Timpanogos’ Jacob Heslington (4A), Rowland Hall’s Eli Oftedal (2A) and Rich’s Vance Weston (1A).

Just like Saarel is hoping to win all three distance events in 3A, so is Heslington in 4A.

Most of Friday’s track events were qualifying heats, but when the state meet continues Saturday, Davis, Woods Cross, Desert Hills, Richfield and Panguitch are the front-runners to claim the state titles in their respective classifications.

A big reason Desert Hills is such a favorite in 3A is because of the balance between sprinters, distance runners, throwers and jumpers. Blake Kvarfordt kept that trend alive by winning the discus with a throw of 160-08.25, the third-best throw in Utah this year.

Jordan’s boys are expected to sweep the throwing events in 5A, and Christian Shaver got the quest off to a strong start by winning the discus with a throw of 165-01.

American Fork’s Jonah Trinnaman sizzled in the 5A 100 qualifying heats, posting the second-fastest time in Utah this year at 10.82.

Fresh off of his state record 21.41 time in the 200 meters at the BYU Invitational two weeks ago, Woods Cross' Jacopo Spano ran a strong 22.16 qualifying heat Friday as he looks to surpass that mark. He also posted a great time in the 100 at 10.91 as he looks to sweep the 4A sprints.

Boys state tournament Day 1 results

Friday at BYU

Class 5A

Boys team scores

1. Davis, 22.5; 2. Layton, 18; 3. Bingham, 16; 4. Alta, 11.5; 5 (tie). Jordan, American Fork, 10; 7. Lone Peak, 9; 8. Weber, 6.5.