By René Ferrán | Photo by Leon Neuschwander
For three members of Lincoln’s boys 4x1-mile relay team, Sunday’s victory at the Nike Outdoor Nationals track and field championships at Hayward Field in Eugene capped a long season that closed their high school careers.
For Mia Brahe-Pedersen, her national championship in the girls 200 meters is just the latest milestone in the rising Lake Oswego junior’s career.
Brahe-Pedersen bounced back from her narrow defeat in Saturday’s 100 final to edge Georgia state champion Adaejah Hodge by four-hundredths of a second, with her winning time of 23.25 seconds making her the first Oregon girl to win a sprint title in the meet’s history.
The Cardinals quartet of rising senior Henry Alexander and recent graduates Finn Chamberlain, Tucker Bowerfind and Aiden Smith kicked off the final day’s track events by winning the 4xMile race in 17:36.02 running for Forest Park Track Club.
Smith, Chamberlain and Bowerfind also ran on the distance medley relay team that placed third Friday, with Smith running a 4:08 mile leg in that race.
“I’d been a little bit skeptical of my fitness based on previous weeks of training,” said Smith, the team’s anchor who signed with the Ducks this spring. “I was feeling burned out after a long season.
“But when I finished the DMR in 4:08 and almost got us into second after getting the stick fifth or sixth, I had a lot of confidence going into the 4xMile. I knew I could catch someone if I had to close hard, or if I had a lead, I could go out hard.”
Sunday’s race saw Smith get the baton with a slight lead thanks to Bowerfind, who erased a one-second deficit during his leg and handed off to Smith 2½ seconds ahead.
Smith didn’t need to go 4:08 as he did Friday, but his 4:17.5 anchor was four seconds faster than anyone else in the field ran in any of the four legs.
“That’s my last high school race,” said Smith, who plans to take a week off before resuming training for college. “And I’m ending on a high, as national champs.”
Brahe-Pedersen also ended a long weekend on a high note, adding Sunday’s title to the Nike Indoors Nationals 200 championship she earned in February in New York.
“I have to say it doesn’t get any less exciting each time,” Brahe-Pedersen said Monday. “I had to work so hard for it. It just feels like everything is paying off. Everything I did was worth it.”
Hodge, a native of the British Virgin Islands, won the U-17 titles in the 100 and 200 at the CARIFTA Games in Jamaica in April and the 100, 200, 400 and long jump at the Georgia Class 6A state championships last month.
The two state champions ran side-by-side in Lanes 6 and 7 for the final, with Brahe-Pedersen able to key off Hodge on her right.
She caught Hodge coming out of the curve, then held on for the victory despite cramping up in the final 10 meters.