King's Invite Recap: Battle of Top 1A, 2B Girls Lives up to the Hype

Shoreline, WA - The most anticipating match-up between King's' Naomi Smith and Northwest Christian of Lacey's Ava Shackell couldn't have gone any better as both girl's would split races at the 34th Annual King's Invite this past Saturday.

Ava Shackell (L) and Naomi Smith (R) in the 1,600 meter at the King's Invite. (Keenan Gray/The Runner)

Smith won the first race featuring the top athletes in their respective classification in the girl's 1,600 running 5:00.99.

Smith, the defending 1A cross country state champion, has been looking forward to this race since spring break because she would be facing Shackell, the top 2B runner in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200, and Bear Creek's Olivia Markezich, a Notre Dame signee who made her season debut.

"I was super excited for this race just because Ava and Olivia were in it," said Smith.

"It's always nice to have competition since they both are good. The race went better than expected. I am really proud with how I raced it versus running as hard as I could."

Smith took the early advantage to start off and wouldn't trail for a second the entire time. Even when Shackell would try to make a move around her, Smith responded with surges to stay in the lead.

Had it not been raining and cold, there was the potential of seeing a sub-five minute mile from Smith.

As the weather gets warmer, Smith can't wait for the opportunity to break the mark and become the first ever girl in King's track and field history to accomplish this feat.

"With the cross season that went so much better than expected, I have a lot to look forward to the rest of the year," said Smith.

"I was a little injured during the offseason so coming into the season I was a little nervous. But, once I ran 5:08 in my first meet back, I knew things would be alright."

Shackell ran a second place time of 5:04.64, a new personal best and also a new school record at Northwest Christian. Markezich was third running 5:14.43 in her first race back from injury.

In the 800 meter, Shackell came out on top running 2:26.48 beating Smith by a second in part two of their exciting races.

After having run a personal best earlier in the 1,600, Shackell knew it would take a determined effort to get a victory.

"The race felt good but it was tough," said Shackell. "Having run a PR in the 1,600 earlier in the day, I was happy with how this 800 went."

Shackell's first lap was a tough one for herself, but she credits Smith for mentally and physically pushing her through the first 400 meters to run a good time to settle her double for the day.

"Naomi is a great runner so it was really good to have her there in the race," said Shackell.

"I was both mentally and physically competing with myself and with her, so, having her early in the race kept me in check and wanting to stay strong and focus on myself by keeping my form good even though I was tired."

On lap two, the 1,600 feeling kicked in making it even tougher for Shackell to excel on the final 400.

"I was feeling the soreness from the 1,600 race, and so I just wanted to hammer the last lap and give it all I got."

Smith ran 2:27.77 to finish second, and Shackell's teammate, Gretchen Stollemyre, was third running a season best 2:34.16.

Life Christian Academy's Gabby Martin won the girl's 3,200 meter in a personal best time of 11:34.24.

Gabby Martin in the 1,600 meter at the King's Invite. (Keenan Gray/The Runner)

The freshman ran a dominating solo winning by almost 50 seconds over King's' Greta Gunning, who ran 12:20.53.

"I was just trying to get into my rhythm from the start," said Martin. "I began feeling tired after six laps. I was aiming for a little bit faster time but I'm happy with the result."

Martin comes from Australia as her family moved over this past summer before the school year began.

She also finished in fourth place in the 1,600 running 5:30.38 for a new personal best.

Finishing in third in the 3,200 was Campbell Baker from King's running a personal best 12:25.52.

Baker came back an hour later to win the girl's Frosh/Soph 1,600 in a time of 5:54.82.

Pope John Paul's II Maggie Larson ran her first ever 1,600 placing second in 6:00.03.

Mt. Vernon Christian's Maddy Nielson was third running a personal best time of 6:17.26.

For more results from this invite, visit:

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