Sat, Aug. 17

Aftershock runners battle windy conditions at AZ State Meet

Allyson Arellano poses for a photo with her three medals from this past weekends USATF AZ State Meet at Mesa Community College. (Courtesy Photo)

Allyson Arellano poses for a photo with her three medals from this past weekends USATF AZ State Meet at Mesa Community College. (Courtesy Photo)

COTTONWOOD- Back-to-back days of 4 a.m. wake ups didn't stop the Aftershock Distance running club from having yet another successful meet this past weekend at the USA Track & Field Arizona State Championships this past weekend at Mesa Community College.

Facing some tough competition and a little extra challenge from Mother Nature, the Aftershock runners battled through the conditions for a total of four medalists and three ribbon-winning performances.

Allyson Arellano turned in another great performance, winning three of the four medals in the 800 meter, 1500 meter and 3000 meter races.

In her 3000 meter race Arellano lowered the age group state record once again, the third time since April, breaking it by .13 seconds.

She finished with a time of 10:25.78 after opening a "solid gap" in the first 1000 meters said Head Coach Micah Swenson.

"She [Allyson] opened up a solid gap, running the first 1000m in 3:22," Swenson said. "Her finishing time of 10:25.78 was just .13 faster than back on April 30th but given the conditions, it was a much stronger performance."

She also took 1st place in her 800 meter race as well and Swenson said she pulled one of the best moves he has ever seen from her, but it was all part of the game plan.

"Rather than focus on time, we really keyed into a race plan that we thought would be most effective to get the win," Swenson said. "The idea was to tuck in behind the leaders for the opening 400m and make two moves with 350m and 150m to go. The two girls who led the opening lap went out way too fast so Allyson let them go, knowing that wind would do some damage to them. The gap from 1st back to Allyson after the opening 400m was just over five seconds. Her move at 350m drew her closer but her move at 150m was one of the best I've ever seen from her."

With about 100 meters to go Allyson pulled even with Gabrielle Enns of Chandler high school and as they came down the stretch the momentum from her move at the 150 meter mark powered her through the line, building a gap of three seconds and finishing with a time of 2:22.10.

Those two races took place on Sunday, but the real excitement came Saturday morning when Allyson faced some great competition in the form of Sarah Carter from Xavier high school and Haley Wolf of Desert Vista high school.

With a very stiff wind, the race took off very slowly and unfortunately didn't break the way Swenson and Allyson were hoping for.

"Haley took the lead with Sarah second and Allyson third," Swenson said. "We were happy with that but a gap opened up between Haley and Sarah before Allyson had a chance to cover it. Allyson was able to get around Sarah but never fully connect with Haley."

Allyson finished 2nd in the race with a clocking of 5:00.83, Wolf finished with a clocking of 4:54.73.

The fourth Aftershock medal of the weekend came via Josh Reilly's 3rd place finish in the 3000 meter race in the 15-16 age group.

Despite the wind, Swenson said Reilly ran right along with the pace of his personal best time. Along with Reilly, Trenton Stafford came in 5th in the same rest and bested his previous time by 2.3 seconds. Swenson says Stafford has been a huge success story this season.

"His training has been pretty consistent and we've been able to up his workload," Swenson said. "This had translated nicely into his racing. At this point, he had taken 1 minute and 11 seconds off his 3000m best from last year. The rest of the runners have been really surprised by his progression but it's a testament to his consistent training since early January."

After dealing with a strain on the back of her leg from a race on April 30, Jenna Caccia turned in two 6th place finishes this weekend.

"We had her running very little and doing a variety of things to help that strain," Swenson said. "With very little running over the previous three weeks, she was still able to earn 6th place finishes in the 1500m and 800m events."

After winning her preliminary heat for the 800 meter race she had to wait to see where she would end up after turning in a time of 3:04.67.

This is Caccia's first track season and Swenson thinks she thrives more as a distance runner.

"I've been pleased with how she's handling these middle distance events," Swenson said. "They don't have 9-10 year olds run the 3000m which has been hard for Jenna because that's really the distance she's most excited for."

The Aftershock team will close out their season at Mesa Community College once again on June 4 and 5 for the Arizona Jr. Olympics.

--Follow Sports Reporter Greg Macafee on Twitter @greg_macafee or contact him at 928-300-1376,