Sun, Dec. 15

Aftershock runners exceed expectations

Penny Fenn competes in the Sedona Marathon 10K. Courtesy photo

Penny Fenn competes in the Sedona Marathon 10K. Courtesy photo

Athletes from Aftershock Distance Club took advantage of the recent spring break to challenge their race savvy at the Oxy Distance Carnival.

The event brings together a slew of college athletes from all levels as well as post-collegiate athletes running for different sponsorship groups.

Jack Kemp Stadium on the Occidental campus has seen countless professional athletes race on the track. Stadium record holders include Mo Farah, Molly Huddle, Gail Devers and Carmelita Jeter.

Aftershock took three athletes who each raced in two separate events. High school junior Penny Fenn raced in the 800-meters and 3000-meter Steeplechase while sophomore Allyson Arellano and junior Karen Arellano, sisters, doubled up in the 1500-meter and 5000-meter events.

Penny opened the meet for Aftershock Distance Club in the 800-meter. She was able complete the two-lap event in 2:22.73, a new personal best by .43 seconds.

The biggest highlight of Penny's night came in the steeplechase, an event that truly tests an athlete's resolve and toughness. Penny smashed her previous best by 29.57 seconds, finishing fourth overall with a time of 11:38.61.

The only athletes to finish ahead of Penny were a pair of NCAA Division II runners and a post-college athlete racing for an elite distance club. Penny was able to outlast several other athletes from every level of college competition, including NCAA Division I runners from Loyola Marymount.

This marked just the fourth time Penny has competed in the 3000-meter Steeplechase, an event she plans to compete in as a college runner two years from now.

The 1500-meter was the event of the night for the Arellano duo.

Younger sister Allyson took the track first in the fastest of four sections.

Targeting a time 4:45, Allyson came through the opening 400 meters right on pace.

However, running progressively faster laps throughout the race, Allyson far exceeded her own expectations.

Allyson finished fifth overall in a time of 4:38.13.

Not only was this an 11.28 second personal best, it also converts to a 4:58 mile.

The sub-five minute mile is a major milestone for female middle distance running.

From a historical context, it is the fastest time ever ran by a Verde Valley girl in this or a comparable distance.

Back in 2002, Ariel Latimer ran a 5:04.85 in the 1600-meter (nine meters short of a mile), a record that currently still stands.

Karen Arellano followed up with a personal best of her own.

Running third in her section, Karen finished with a time of 5:07.62. This was an improvement of 6.20 seconds for Karen who has just set her previous best of 5:13.82 a few weeks earlier at Glendale Community College.

Both girls returned to the track later in the evening for the 5000-meter.

Despite running on tired legs, they turned in strong performances.

Allyson finished in a time of 18:22.20, her third best time over this distance. Karen completed the 12.5 lap event in 19:55.83, a new track personal best and just 27 seconds short of her Cross Country best.

The group will continue to train over the next three months in hopes of eclipsing these marks at a future meet.

They will be in action again on March 26 and 28 at Paradise Valley Community College.

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