3 area runners have good showing at Meet of Champions
Against some of Arizona’s top milers regardless of division, St. Michael junior Ali Upshaw came pretty close to winning the 1,600-meter run during last Saturday’s AIA Meet of Champions.
Invitations to the prestigious meet are awarded based on how each athlete did at the state meet two weeks ago in all four divisions.
Upshaw came into the meet as the Division IV champion and she lost Saturday’s race by a close margin to Gilbert Highland junior Caroline McLeskey, the Division I third-place finisher.
McLeskey won the race in 4 minutes, 57.59 seconds with Upshaw clocking in at 4:58.80. With that, the St. Michael runner improved her personal best by over three seconds.
“It was a fast race and I just paced off Caroline McLeskey,” Upshaw said. “I stuck with her and I knew she was going to go under five minutes. I held on and I just pushed myself from behind.”
Upshaw said placing second in a race like Meet of Champions is rewarding, especially since the St. Michael track team does not have the facility to train like other schools in the state.
To help them train, she said the team uses a dirt soccer field on campus and to do reps they measure out 400 meters with a measuring wheel to mimic what a real track would look like.
“It shows that I have what it takes despite not having what other schools have,” Upshaw said, adding that she is showing a strong interest in running in the 44th Annual Great Southwest Classic June 6-8 in Albuquerque.
Pinon senior Precious Robinson also took part of the 1,600 as she finished with a time of 5:12.08, placing her sixth overall.
In her best showing, Robinson took third in the 3,200 behind Flagstaff junior Hana Hall (10:54.85) and Glendale Deer Valley senior Emily Stutesman (10:58.50).
Robinson, who is set to graduate on Saturday, finished with a time of 11:03.74, which was three seconds shy of her PR she set during the Arizona Division IV state meet.
With limited practice time, Robinson said she was real nervous going into Saturday’s Meet of Champions, racing against some of Arizona’s best runners with a few state champions in the mix.
“I didn’t expect to place that high, honestly, but I realized that there were some people who were ahead of me that I could beat,” she said. “I didn’t practice as much but I really wanted to be up there.”
Robinson said she let Hall and Chinle’s Alisia Honyumptewa set the pace early on as the two runners created a gap from the rest of the field with Stutesman following a close third.
“I just stayed back and watched them do their thing,” Robinson said of the lead pack.