The list was long of elite runners in the field of the fast section of the 3200 meter at Saturday night's flrunners.com PR Festival On The Track in Viera, Florida. It was certainly going to be one of the featured races of the evening for the inaugural event and it delivered with fast times as well as a dramatic exciting finish to determine the winner. A grand total of 19 boys would break 10 minutes between the handful of heats run.
In the last and final section of 3200 meter races, a large pack of at least 10 including some of Florida's very best rolled through the first 1600 meters just over 4:40 for their split around the 4:41 to 4:42 range with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees and a steady wind around 10 mph around the newly surfaced Viera High School Track. The entrant with the fastest 3200 PR coming into the meet at 9:17 in Buchholz senior Emerson Miller led much of the way for the first mile of the race before giving way to others and ultimately finishing seveth in 9:37.
On the fifth lap, TJ Hansen who traveled all the way down to Florida from Freeland, Michigan where he is a sophomore busted the race open with a surge pressing laps 5, 6, and 7 with a 3 second advantage with 800 meters to go. Entering the final lap, the only two runners who were able to stay in striking distance to Hansen were Montverde Academy senior Riley Novack and Cambridge Christian senior Braxton Legg. Legg had a 9:28 3200 PR from last spring's FSU Relays, while Novack had run just under 9:20 in an indoor race last winter.
With a 60 second last lap split, Novack was able to roar past Hansen while hold off a hard charging Legg as well who closed his last 400 meters in a 61 second split to win in a new personal best performance of 9:10.09 with Legg in second place at 9:11 and Hansen in third place at 9:12 all dropping their PR's significantly in the eighth lap event.
Both Novack and Legg are unsigned seniors and have shown with their most recent race performances including Novack's 3200 win on Saturday night as well as another post-season victory at the FACA All-Star Senior Meet to match Legg's victory in the FHSAA 1A state cross country race as two of the more prized senior distance recruits left in Florida for college coaches to try and secure their commitments from.
Another unsigned senior in Aedan Rendek on his home track at Viera showed what he could truly do in the 3200 after a stellar cross country season running under 16 minutes in several races to make one of the biggest PR improvements going from a 10 minutes flat performance last spring to finishing fourth on Saturday night with a 9:21 personal best. His senior teammate Cameron Raney, who recently signed with Florida Southern College, was only a second off his PR from last spring at the FSU Relays to round out a strong top 6 of finishers with a 9:25 effort for sixth place.
The 4:13 miler and University of Florida commit Alec Miller of Sarasota finished fifth between the two runners from Viera on their home track in a new PR time of 9:22 after improving his endurance and range this fall culminating with a runner-up finish in the 4A state cross country race two weeks ago in Tallahassee.