Friday, June 10, 2016

Emma Benner Demonstrates How to Run in the Heat

Emma Benner(3), Bethany Hasz(1), and Megan Hasz(2) greet each other
 after the finish. Photo by Gene Niemi
It's usually the sprinters who welcome hot, humid weather.  This year's Hamline Elite 3200 champion Forest Lake's Emma Benner said when she saw the weather forecast for Friday: "I was psyched. I love the heat."  She demonstrated that by winning her first state title in a time of 10:29.69.

Last month, when the weather conditions were considered more favorable for distance running, Benner won a dual with Winona Cotter's Grace Ping in a personal best time of 10:28.72.  On Friday, by chance, the race was not a two-person battle.  It unfolded in a manner that was the perfect design for a fast race, rather than the usual championship style these days of a slow pace followed by a big kick to determine the winner.

Minneapolis Washburn's Emily Covert shot off the starting line in a 71 second first quarter, about a second slower than the boy's ran for their first lap of their 3200.  None of the boys really wanted to push the pace, so Stillwater's Eli Krahn, who has one of the best kicks, kept it slow to conserve energy. "I was surprised they let me lead at that pace," said Krahn.

Covert didn't think she was going that fast, she found herself in the lead, and the adrenaline took over.  She hadn't intended to attempt to run away from the field, but she had a four second lead on the first lap and increased it during the second as the chase pack of five that included defending champion Bethany Hasz, her sister Megan, and Benner were in no hurry to close the gap.

The Pack:R to L. Emily Covert(5) Bethany Hasz(1), Megan Hasz(sandwiched
behind Bethany and in front of Benner),Sophie Whicher(4), and  
Anna Fenske(6). Photo by Gene Niemi
The chase pack didn't catch Covert until nearly the half-way mark of the race that they passed in 5:15.  Covert stayed with the pack and the pace didn't drop that much as each of the runners were busy eyeing one another waiting for the last lap sprint.

All of them except Benner.  With a half mile to go, as was her pre-race plan, she accelerated.  Benner quickly opened up a several second lead that grew as the race now became one for second place.  After the race the Hasz twins acknowledged that they didn't respond quick enough to Benner's surge, and when they did it was too late.  Megan, who has battled injuries for the last two years, was able to outkick her sister, defending 3200 champion Bethany Hasz, but neither came close to Benner. Covert finished fifth.

The Hasz twins and Benner are entered in the 1600 tomorrow, but Benner has another engagement today. "I'm graduating tonight," she noted, adding: "It's going to be a little tiring."

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