Rheinhardt Harrison 8:47, Ball 8:56!

Bolles Last Chance Meet Results & Coverage

On Wednesday night at the Bolles Last Chance Track Meet in Jacksonville, Florida, we witnessed a historic 3200-meter race. A pair of teammates from Nease High School in junior Rheinhardt Harrison and senior Anderson Ball both break 9 minutes in the same race. It was the first time achieved in Florida state history, while Harrison won with a time of 8:47.43 to also break the Florida high school state record in the event in the process.

The Florida State-bound senior Ball was paced and assisted by his teammate Harrison for the first six laps before the 4:01 miler took off to see what he could in the final 800 meters himself. Ball held on then finished strong himself with a 10 second PR of 8:56.96.

The irony of the race was that it was a much bigger PR drop for Rheinhardt Harrison as his 3200 meters best prior sat at a modest time of 9:34 from his last time running the eight-lap event as a freshman two years ago.

With so much attention and somewhat pressure for Rheinhardt Harrison put on him since running 4:01 full mile as a high school sophomore with several races since but none quite as a fast in the 4:02-4:06 range, this race was a nice break from that spotlight at a new racing distance.

There was certainly less hype, promotion, and fanfare of this race compared to his sub 4-minute mile attempts in the past. Under the radar leading to a stealthy all-time great performance on a low-key Wednesday meet to give primarily JV kids one final racing opportunity as well as others the last chance to qualify for the district meet.

The focus instead for Rheinhardt was on helping his teammate in an upcoming graduating senior and loyal training mate in Ball break 9 minutes in possibly his last and best opportunity to do it before he shuts down to get ready for the college training transition at some point in May.

The pacing job done by Rheinhardt was superb as their slowest lap was their first lap and 400 meters in 69 seconds, before cranking it up a notch and keeping it steady throughout to hit 800 meters in 2:17, 1200 meters in 3:26, and 1600 meters in 4:30 for the halfway point.

After hitting a 69-second lap on lap 5 to roll thru 2000 meters in 5:39 and following that up with a 67-second lap on lap 6 for a cumulative time of 6:36, Harrison then shifted gears to give up pacing duties and focus on seeing how fast that he close for the final 800 meters.

How about 2:01 for the last 800 meters by Harrison including a 57 second last lap kick to break the former Florida high school state record of 8:49.62 established back in 2019 at the Arcadia Invitational in California by The Bolles School's own Charles Hicks. 

At 7:53 with 400 meters to go, Ball had no room for error or a blow-up in his finish. He needed to finish strong to join Harrison under 9 minutes and certainly did that with a 63 last 400 meters to finish in the nation's sixth-fastest performance of the year in 8:56.96.

The conditions on Wednesday in Jacksonville were much better from the last time that both Harrison and Ball competed in the same meet going for fast times when they were dealt with insanely windy conditions in Satellite Beach for the Set Goals No Limits Distance Showcase last month during spring break week. Very light winds and what was a very warm and humid day rising well into the 80-degree range earlier in the meet dropped more into the 70-degree range with the sunset for the day by the 3200-meter race starting just after 8 PM Eastern Standard Time. 

The track at The Bolles School is a familiar venue for fast times for both runners as back in late February at the Bolles Bulldog Classic, Harrison won the 800 in a personal best time of 1:51 while Ball ran a then-personal best of 9:11.

If Harrison had not competed in a 3200-meter race this week, he would have not been eligible to run the event at the FHSAA District Championships coming up as the qualifiers for the regional and state championship events to follow. Now district qualified, Harrison and Ball might be going after racking up serious points for their Nease squad which also has one of the best-combined hurdlers in the state with his 110 and 300 meter hurdles times in Cyrus Ways to make a run at the 4A state team title. 

Certainly with the limited rest and meet format this year for the FHSAA State Finals due to Covid considerations will play a role in how hard and how fast that the distance duo from Nease will try to run in their state finals races at the University of North Florida on Saturday, May 8th for the competitive and deep 4A classification. 

The race on Wednesday night at Bolles was one of the last chances for this special duo to be all-time great in teamwork and individually with their efforts. The clutch collab performance by Rheinhardt Harrison and Anderson Ball will be something to talk about forever in Florida high school track and field lore.