An outstanding early-season boys' 1600 battle was witnessed on Saturday at the Cardinal Gibbons Preseason Distance Carnival. Two seniors in Matthew Mule' of Saint Andrew's and Michael Fiore of Fort Lauderdale faced off and set a hot pace from the gun.
The two runners exchanged leads over the first 3 laps and appeared to be working together to keep the pace honest until Mule' seized control at the gun to drop a 60 second last lap to run away to a new personal best and state leading performance of 4:15.02. The fellow University of Florida commit and future college teammate of Mule' in Fiore also closed hard in 63 seconds to run a new PR as well at 4:18.19 for second place. Both runners went under the old meet record.
Mule' has had quite a progression in one year's time when he was at West Boca Raton High School and his 1600 meter personal best sat at 4:30. After a fall cross country season which saw him finish as the 2A state runner-up and drop his 5K personal best to 15:29, Mule' stepped on the track to run a 4:18 PR for 1600 meters in a rare fall track meet in November to foreshadow his race on Saturday.
The 1600 meter race for the girls also produced a swift Florida state-leading time by Boca Raton senior Pia Beaulieu. After not losing a single race this past fall among her 8 cross country races (but not able to compete in the state championship season due to the Covid policy within her local school system), Beaulieu has continued that momentum into the spring.
Beaulieu just barely missing out on breaking 5 minutes for the first time with a 5:00.33 victory at Cardinal Gibbons. If she is running that close to 5 minutes flat this early in the outdoor season, it is a question of when not if she will join the sub 5-minute miler club. Since she will be focusing on soccer at the next level in college when attends Princeton, she will be leaving it all out on the track in the 2021 outdoor season.
The 800-meter races also saw strong winning times including Jinah Mickens-Malik of Mater Academy Charter walking away with a solid 2:19 season debut as well as victory at the distance. She will look to work her way down as the season progresses to her 2:08 personal best and two-time Florida 3A state champion form in the event. Beaulieu was a runner-up to Mickens-Malik before winning the 1600 later in a meet record time.
Douglas senior Sheldon McCullum joined only a handful of others in Florida to break two minutes for the boys 800 so far taking first at Cardinal Gibbons with 1:58.85. A good start for a FHSAA 4A state qualifier in the event two outdoor seasons ago and a 1:55 personal best at 800 meters.