RESULTS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE
Finnane Improves 3rd All-Time 3200m Mark; Leach Suffers after Bold First Mile
With her place already secured as the greatest middle-distance runner in school history, Brighie Leach (15) rolled the dice at the 2015 CIF State Championships, choosing to focus her attention on the 3200m race. With personal bests and school records already accomplished in the 800m and 1600m during the preceding month, the 3-time state meet veteran took the opportunity to race against the nation's best in the 8-lap affair, and perhaps lower her 3200m time yet again, rather than take the spot she had also earned in the 1600m.
Toni Finnane (15), a track & field rookie, who followed up her incredible fall cross country season with a record setting spring of her own, joined Leach in the final-only event on Saturday night at Buchanan High School's Memorial Stadium.
The race unfolded just as expected, with Great Oak's Destiny Collins and Davis Senior's Fiona O'Keeffe jumping out to an early lead. O'Keeffe had already run 10 flat the previous week.
Leach executed her own race plan dutifully, letting the favorites battle up front while she stayed in the chase pack for the first lap. However, in spite of a 72 second clocking for the opening 400m, Leach was compelled to move out on lap 2 and begin what was hoped to be a gradual closing of the gap to the leaders. Leach continued to push through laps 3 and 4, and though the distance to the leaders remained, she crossed the half-way point in just under 5 minutes.
Never before had 3 athletes been on pace for bettering the 10 minute barrier this deep into the race at the state championships.
Meanwhile, Finnane maintained her own ferocious pace, trading positions on the rail with other athletes in the chase pack. She clocked 5:08 at 1600m.
Through the 5th lap Collins and O'Keeffe continued to challenge one another. At the same time Leach appeared to give one last heroic push to reel them in, but with neither of the leaders showing any signs of fading, the pace, and perhaps a season-long string of incredible accomplishments, finally took a toll.
While Finnane had the advantage of running in a group, Leach had run 4 laps entirely alone.
The 6th and 7th laps saw Finnane and the chase group gradually bare down on Leach. In the final turn around the oval, Finnane and several others, themselves struggling to finish after such a blazing first half, passed the staggering Leach.
Finnane once again improved upon her mark, crossing the finish 10th in 10:26.61. Leach, with heavy legs and burning lungs, courageously heaved herself over the line in 15th place.
Finnane helped her teammate off the track and across the infield. Leach then sat stunned in the bullpen for several minutes before collecting herself and walking back into the dimly lit warm up area.
It was a bitter-sweet conclusion to an historic season for the girls' distance runners, one in which they set school records in 5 different events to earn a spot among the nation's elite programs.
VARSITY GIRLS RESULTS
3200m Toni Finnane 10:26.61, Brighie Leach 10:35.00