Birger Solberg Recap: Shorecrest's Luu, Thurman Win 1,600 & 3,200

Bellingham, WA - Shorecrest's senior duo Erik Luu won the 1,600 meter and Spencer Thurman won the 3,200 meter races at the 2019 Birger Solberg Invite on Saturday, April 6, at Civic Stadium.

Luu out kicked Bothell's Amrit Banga on the last 100 meters to complete the victory while running a season best time of 4:26.7 to help the Scotties secure their first win of the day.

Considering the windy conditions, Luu said, "the race was good" and he matched his time from two weeks ago.

"I felt pretty good in the beginning. I didn't realize how bad the wind was until I was 300 meters into the race, but overall it was a good race considering the wind."

A tight race from the start as no one wanted to lead until about the third lap where Luu and Banga began to break away and make it a two man race.

With 100 meters to go, Luu had the upperhand taking the win on a final sprint.

"The last 100 meters you have to go for it," said Luu. "If you don't you are just going to regret that decision and not be happy with yourself."

University Prep's Arie Smidt also made a last second surge past Granite Fall's Isaac Cortes to finish in third place running a season best time of 4:33.98.

Shorecrest's Thurman came in as the No. 1 seeded runner, and stayed the No. 1 runner after crossing the finish as he ran 9:38.29 in his 3,200 win beating high school rival Ben Heagler from Shorewood.

Another tight race from the start that would eventually turn into a solo, tough run for Thurman.

He was still able to execute his race plan after running consistent laps in high winds for the first mile.

"On the second mile, my plan was to do 50 yard surges on the straightaways as I wanted to create distance from the other runners," said Thurman. "The race was pretty rough, especially along the back stretch, but I was able to push through all the way to the finish line."

Shorewood's Heagler second place finish was in ran 9:42.9 for a season best time, and Kamiak's Carp Mukai was third running a personal best time of 9:44.55.

In the first race of the day, South Whidbey's Michael Cepowski won his second consecutive 2,000 meter Steeplechase race at the Birger Solberg Invite beating Jackson's Shane Grossman at the finish line by .26 tenths of a second.

Michael Cepowski clearing the water barrier in the 2,000 meter Steeplechase at the 2019 Birger Solberg Invite. (Keenan Gray/The Runner)

Cepowski and Grossman both ran personal best times in 6:36.72 and 6:36.98.

For the five lap race, Cepowski would trade first and second place spots with Grossman.

With a lap to go, Grossman went out front to take the lead as if Cepowski had no chance to catch back up.

Because Cepowski was the defending champion, he wasn't going to let Grossman beat him and be the new king of the steeplechase.

"I felt like I had a lot more in me," said Cepowski. "I told myself that I had more and just pushed as much I could that final stretch.

Cepowski was fortunate enough to be able to have a steeple to practice over at South Whidbey High School as distance coach Doug Fulton constructed one out of wood.

For the first couple weeks of the season, Cepowski dealt with a ligament strain keeping him out of competition for a while, so he said he "was very eager to get back out and running."

The Ingraham 4 x 800 meter relay team won their race in a total time of 8:13.52 over Kamiak, who ran 8:25.08.

The athletes on the team, with their times, were Quinn Hauk (2:05), Charlie Orth (2:03), Sam Orth (2:00), and Rafe Dresbeck (2:05).

Jackson was third with a total time of 8:38.63.

Ferndale's Landon Sturdevant won the Frosh/Soph 1,600 race in a season best time of 4:42.31.

Sturdevant got out in front the first 100 meters in 16 seconds but would immediately fall behind the outside-lane pack to let the leaders deal with the wind.

"I was just trying to get out fast and catch up to the front guys who were cutting in," said Sturdevant.

Jackson's Brenden Charbeneau, who took third in 4:48.33, led for two laps before Sturdevant took over and would be in full control the final 800 meters.

Upon entering the final lap, Sturdevant managed to out kick his opponents for 425 meters closing in a 65 second last lap.

"I knew I had this," said Sturdevant. "I could feel the second place guy slowing down and fading off. Although that last lap was fast, it was brutal and it hurt."

Mariner's Dominic Cruz-Estrada placed second running 4:46.47.

In a stacked field of highly elite 800 runners, Bothell High School's Cooper Hayes won in a time of 2:00.1 despite a late surge from University Prep's Smidt, who ran a season best time of 2:00.87.

Cooper Hayes (2) out front in the 800 meter race at the 2019 Birger Solberg Invite. (Keenan Gray/The Runner)

The race started out quick for the first 200, but would immediately slow down on the back 200 curve which led to a slow first lap.

"The pace slowed down a lot leading to a slow first lap," said Hayes. "Going into lap two, I made a big move out front hoping I could hang on in the end."

An evenly run raced by Hayes as came trough his first lap in 60 seconds and would close his final lap in the same exact time.

Probably Hayes' least favorite part of the race was the last 100 meters coming down the homestretch.

"It was tough," said Hayes. "First lap, the head wind wasn't too bad because I was behind a few guys, but that last 100, I really had to dig."

Sehome's Lucas Cunningham rounded up the top three running a season best time of 2:01.2.

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