PROVO Lone Peak's Lacey Cramer was facing Davis High's Candace Eddy, not only the defending state champion but also the state record-holder in the 1,600-meter run. Cramer was behind another Davis runner, Natalie Haws, heading into the final lap.
None of that daunted Cramer, who pushed ahead to win the 5A title in the girls' 1,600 event at the 5A state track and field championships Friday morning at BYU.
"I just had to stay right behind her and I knew I could out-kick her in the (final) 200 (meters)," said Cramer, a senior who claimed her first state championship. "That's what the coaches told me to do. It's huge for me. I'm always second in this."
Not this time. Despite falling behind Haws, Cramer pushed ahead for a five-second win, finishing with a time of 4:56.18. Haws came in second, while Eddy, who set the mark at last year's state meet with a time of 4:54.38, slipped to fourth on Friday. Although she's a senior, Friday is far from the last time Cramer will run at the Clarence F. Robison Track. Cramer said she will compete for BYU next year.
"There's no better time to win it (than as a senior)," she said. "I'm so happy just now."
She wasn't the only one. Ruth Hilton of Pine View finished fifth in the 1,600 meters at the 3A level last year. The Panthers moved up a level to 4A this year, and even facing competition from a bigger classification, Hilton claimed the state title in 2008.
But Hilton said she felt competition in the event is actually tougher at the 3A level. In fact, her time of 5:08.37 would have been nearly seven seconds behind 3A state champion Chloe Calton of Ogden.
"It almost seems cheap to me," Hilton said. "Had I been there, I might have won. It's hard to know."
Still, she's happy for a state championship at what she sees as a more prestigious level.
"I was pretty nervous about it," she said. "I'm better at the longer races. I came into this six seconds behind (the top qualifier), but I stayed on her tail ... and said, 'Why let them beat me?' I don't want to lose."
Like Cramer and Hilton, Parowan's Kiersten Blauer used a strong finish in the final lap to claim the 2A title in the 1,600. Blauer, who won the state title as a sophomore but finished fourth last year, said although she was shaking with nerves all week, she was calm during the race.
"I just stayed with them the whole race and then sped up," she said. "I had a lot left. I felt relaxed and that I had tons left."
Notable field event winners Friday included Bountiful senior Nicole Knighton in the 4A shot put (45 feet, 7 1/2 inches), who won by nearly nine feet, and Viewmont sophomore Bailee Whitworth in the long jump (17-1 1/4).
Heading into today, Milford (35 points) leads the 1A girls standings, North Sevier (39 points) is ahead in 2A, Judge Memorial (47 points) sits atop the 3A, Orem (31 points) leads the 4A and Davis (27 1/2) is ahead in the 5A race.