Varsity Extra

Borah runner breaks 5-minute mark at YMCA Invitational

Sara Christianson has to come up with a new goal.

After running her first 1,600 meters in under 5 minutes to win the four-lap event at the YMCA Invitational on Friday, the Borah High junior followed with a victory in the 800 on Saturday at Mountain View High.

Christianson’s winning time of 4 minutes, 58.66 seconds is the fastest 1,600 on Idaho soil this season, and second only to defending 5A state champion Emily Hamlin of Boise.

“There was no wind, and my legs were feeling good,” Christianson said. “I was just like, ‘I can do this today.’ ... That’s been my goal my entire high school career was to get under 5 (minutes). I finally did it.”

Hamlin — a Washington signee — set state meet records in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 last spring. She ran a 4:57.53 to finish 11th in the mile at the Arcadia Invitational earlier this month in California.

Hamlin’s accomplishments in the sport have served as motivation for many of her competitors, including Christianson.

“I think a lot of the girls who are running now, and the times that they are putting out, it really pushes people,” Christianson said. “It makes you think, ‘I can do that.’ People kind of have a target on their back, and you want to get to that spot because you see other people succeeding.”

Having checked a sub-5 minute 1,600 off her list this weekend, Christianson heads into the final three weeks of the track and field season with some tough decisions to make.

Her times in all three distance events — the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 — rank among the top three in the state this season, but she isn’t sure she’ll attempt to run all three at the district and state meets, or compete in a relay or two for the Lions.

“I’m still deciding and talking to my coaches about it,” Christianson said.

Said Borah distance coach Tim Severa: “I’ve watched her practicing, and I’ve seen that she can go under 5 for a while. I think it’s been more mental, so to see her get that breakthough, and she ran such an even race and pretty much by herself, it was really exciting and very emotional.”

It may prove to be the confidence boost Christianson needs to chase down personal bests at state in May.

“It feels good. Hard work’s finally paid off,” Christianson said. “But I won’t stop working hard. I’ve got to keep going.”

RECORD-SETTING CAREER CONTINUES

Boise State signee Elijah Armstrong of Pocatello High established two meet records with victories in the 1,600 and 3,200.

On Friday, Armstrong won the boys 1,600 in 4:10.40, bettering the record he established last year of 4:13.85. On Saturday, Armstrong ran to a commanding victory in the 3,200 in 9:05.91. The previous meet record was 9:12.17 set by Tyler Crofts of Hillcrest in 2011.

Last fall, Armstrong became the first Idaho runner to win four individual state cross country titles. Armstrong’s season best of 8:52.16 in the 3,200 ranks second in the nation this season, according to dyestat.com.

BK HURDLER EYES STRONG FINISH

While wind and cold kept most meet records intact Saturday, Bishop Kelly’s Mikaela Sawyer didn’t walk away empty handed.

The senior and Princeton commit won the girls 300 hurdles in 45.81 seconds, more than 2 seconds ahead of her nearest competitor, but not on pace to match her meet record of 43.81, which she set in 2013.

But with the district and state meets quickly approaching, it isn’t simply about running fast times.

“Even if I don’t run fast times, it is good for training,” Sawyer said. “It helps me get in shape for state. Plus just the experience is always good.”

Sawyer has the state’s top time in the 100 hurdles (14.65) and the second-best mark in the 300 hurdles (44.48) behind Coeur d’Alene’s Kaitlyn Gunnerson (44.41), a 5A competitor.

Sawyer won the 300 hurdles at the 4A state meet as a sophomore, and she’s hoping to make it to the top of the podium once again.

“That state record is motivating me right now,” Sawyer said. “I would love to get that.”

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