Angelina Perez finally got the elusive national title she had been chasing since the fall, and Jimmy Wischusen broke a record held by one the greatest distance runners in U.S. high school history when the two New Jersey stars burned up the track at the New Balance National Championships on Friday night at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
Perez, a senior at Lakeland, pulled away from the field over the final half mile and ran off with a decisive victory in the girls 2-mile in 10:03.18. It was Perez's first national title, and it was especially sweet after she finished second at the East Bay National Cross-Country Championships last December, and was third in in the 2-mile at the New Balance Indoor National Championships.
The University of Florida-bound Perez, wo hot the mile mark in 4:58.99, opened a five second lead on the sixth lap and was never challenged the rest of the way as she won by more than five seconds over Zariel Macchia of William Floyd High in New York, second in a New York state freshman record 10:08.50. Macchia won the 2-mile at the Nike Indoor Nationals in March.
Perez, who set the NJ 3,200 record of 9:53.29 at the State Group 2 Championships last week, won't have much time to savor this moment. She will be back on the track to run the 3,200 at Saturday's New Jersey Meet of Champions as she aims to finish her legendary high school career with her first outdoor M of C title.
Meanwhile, Union Catholic's Wischusen continued his remarkable season by stopping the clock at 8:56.41 to finish fourth in the boys 2-mile and become the fastest sophomore in NJ history. Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict's Prep, who many regard as the best high school distance runner of all-time, ran 8:53.65 for 3,200 as a sophomore at the 2011 Essex County Championships, which converts to 8:56.75 for two-miles.
Wischusen's 8:56.41 time also makes him the 12th fastest 3200/2-miler in NJ history, and the ninth fastest sophomore in U.S. history.
Wischusen ran a huge negative split as he rallied from ninth place at the halfway mark. After hitting the mile in 4:32.70, Wischusen blasted a 4:23.71 final mile, capped off by a 2:08.74 final half-mile and a 62.79 final quarter.
The performance by Wischusen comes a day after he anchored UC's 4xmile to a national title in 17:12.34, which equals the NJ state record. Wischusen may come back on Sunday to run the open mile. I know what you're thinking? The state sophomore record for the mile is 4:03.29 set by you know who-Cheserek. Maybe Wischusen can chase down King Chez one more time!!! Time will tell!