Wesley Frazier figured she had no chance to catch Erin Finn. Not with that much ground to cover. Not with so little time remaining.
And yet, in one of the most stunning races on the New Balance Nationals, Frazier found full-throttle in the last 150 and caught Finn in the last inch to win the 25-lap 5,000 meters as both runners went through the finish tape in national record time.
Finn, of Bloomfield, Mich., was the reigning champion and national record holder (16:19.69) and despite suffering a sinus infection she made the trip to the Armory. For 4,000 meters, Finn looked untouchable and the only question was how much time could she slice from her record. Past half way, she was on pace for 15:50-something.
But in the final 800, Finn began to falter.
And Frazier, even from 75 meters behind, could tell that she was making up ground.
"I made a quick decision on the backstretch," said Frazier, of Raleigh, N.C. "I didn't think I had enough room. That last 150 I just started chasing as hard as I could."
When they hit the finish line, it was unclear who won.
Then Finn's time went up on the scoreboard: 16:18.02. National record.
The timers scrutinized the finish photo.
Minutes went by before Frazier's time was posted: 16:18.01. National record.
In the boys' 5000m, Elijah Armstrong from Pocatello, Idaho, won the race and broke the national sophomore class record in 14:54.27.