The object is to win the race, whether one’s in the fast heat, the slow heat or somewhere in between.
And winning is a habit Jenna Thurman doesn’t intend to break.
Thurman, who captured four Class 4A titles for Del Norte in track and cross-country, won her heat in the mile run Saturday during UNM’s Cherry & Silver Invitational at the Albuquerque Convention Center.
Thurman, a freshman at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., finished 13th overall among 50 runners in five heats with a time of 5 minutes, 7.42 seconds – an impressive performance, considering many of the nation’s best collegiate middle-distance runners were in the competition.
Florida State’s Georgia Peel’s winning time of 4:44.61, minus an allowance for altitude, would be the nation’s best in the young indoor season.
“I was pretty happy,” Thurman said. “It’s really good for this time of the season. It’s just my second race.”
She hopes to break 5 minutes in the mile before the indoor season is over.
Thurman also ran the 800 meters, finishing fifth in her heat and 24th overall in 2:24:48.
At Del Norte, Thurman won the Class 4A 1,600- and 3,200-meter titles as a senior. She won back-to-back titles for the Knights in cross country.
Last summer, she was named the Journal‘s Female Metro Athlete of the Year for 2012-13.
Among her many options, she chose to attend Adams State, a perennial NCAA Division II track and cross-country power. In the fall, she helped the Grizzlies to a second-place finish at Division II cross-country nationals with a 46th place individual finish among 244 runners.
Thurman had her own private cheering section Saturday, composed of family, friends and former teammates.
“When I was tired during the race,” she said, “them yelling at me and knowing they were here made me want to keep going and run faster.”
She’s enjoying life, school and running at Adams State.
“The training’s a lot harder than I thought it would be,” she said, “but that’s probably why we (do so well).”
The Adams State women finished sixth at last year’s Division II indoor track championships. The ASC men finished second.
Thurman plans to major in biology, with the intention of going to medical school, but plans to continue running after college.
“One of my goals,” she said, “is to be in the Olympics.”
On the men’s side, the mile was faster still – further exploding the myth that fast times in the distance races can’t be run at altitude.
Ryan Hill, a 10-time All-American at North Carolina State who now runs for Nike, was barely winded after breaking the 4-minute barrier with a winning time of 3:59.0.
“This was my first race of the 2014 year,” Hill said. “I’ve broken 4 (minutes) many a time, but I’ve never broken it at 5,000 feet. So that was an added challenge, a whole new race to shoot for. I can say I did this now.”
Hill is essentially a 5,000-meter runner – he placed third at that distance at last summer’s U.S. Outdoor Championships – but ran the mile and the 800 meters at the Cherry & Silver.
Hill was a double winner, taking the 800 meters in a time of 1:50.22.
Jarrin Solomon, a former Lobo and a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist for Trinidad and Tobago in the 4×400 relay, ran the 400 meters Saturday and finished second in his heat, third overall in a time of 46.70.
Some 900 athletes from 31 teams took part in the meet, UNM coach Joe Franklin said.
No team scores were kept.
The Lobos had few high finishes, partly because of the high quality of competition, partly because Franklin held out some of his top athletes in anticipation of next Saturday’s New Mexico Team Invitational.
Still, Franklin said, it was a highly productive meet, dotted with personal bests.
He was especially pleased with the triple jump. Former Highland Hornet Warrick Campbell finished fourth in the men’s event with a leap of 52 feet even. Freshman Janell Hadnot placed sixth in the women’s triple jump at 41-8.
“People competed,” Franklin said. “… The students have competed very, very well.”