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It was that time of year again this past weekend. The Arcadia Invitational took place in southern California, as dozens of the top distance runners in the country took part in the annual showcase. With so much talent in one place, many of the season's top performances were bound to take place, and they sure did. We recap the Arcadia Invitational, highlight a few other nationally elite performances and feature an interview with Illinois athlete Jeff Thode (Sr., Conant, IL).

Arcadia Invitational

Every year many of the top distance runners in the country converge at the Arcadia High School (CA) track to take part in one of the finest high school track and field invitationals in the country. The Arcadia Invitational has a rich history of amazing performances, and this year simply added to the long lists, as many of the top distance races produced numerous U.S. top five marks.

As what seems to be the case nearly every year, the boys 3,200m run had deep fields, with many runners capable of breaking the nine minute barrier. While there were many favorites, a surprise upset took place, as Collin Jarvis (Sr., Rancho Buena, CA) outdistanced himself from Tim Freriks (Sr., Mingus Union, AZ) in the final 50 meters of the race, winning 8:58.15-8:58.71.

Also breaking the nine minute threshold was Nathan Mathabane (Sr., Lincoln, OR), who ran to a third place finish in 8:59.96. Wes Rickman (Sr., Falcon, CO) and Zack Torres (Sr., Crescenta Valley, CA) finished 4-5 respectively, while Justin Vilhauer (So., Redwood, CA) showed why he may be the top sophomore in the country, placing sixth in 9:02.71.

Boys 3,200 Run Top Six Finishers
8:58.15 - Collin Jarvis (Sr., Rancho Buena, CA)
8:58.71 - Tim Freriks (Sr., Mingus Union, AZ)
8:59.96 - Nathan Mathabane (Sr., Lincoln, OR)
9:01.31 - Wes Rickman (Sr., Falcon, CO)
9:02.50 - Zack Torres (Sr., Crescenta Valley, CA)
9:02.71 - Justin Vilhauer (So., Redwood, CA)

Initially it seemed like the girls 3,200m run would be the talk of the weekend. Jordan Hasay (Sr., Mission Prep, CA) was scheduled to take part, but pulled out Saturday before the race citing illness. With Hasay sitting on the sidelines, this gave other runners a chance to showcase their talents. Alex Dunne (Sr., San Clemente, CA) seems to have taken a big step forward over the past year, as she lowered her PR and won the race in 10:16.83. Jessica Tonn (Jr., Xavier Prep, AZ) finished second in 10:25.85.

The boys mile also produced a very exciting outcome. Sophomore Elias Geydon (So., Loyola, CA), who's been putting up some impressive numbers so far this outdoor season, took home the boys mile title in 4:08.69. Geydon used a strong finish to outdistance himself from runner-up Patrick McGregor (Sr., Hoover, AL) and third place finisher Danny Neff (Sr., Vandalia-Butler, OH). McGregor finished in 4:09.13, Neff finished in 4:09.86, while James Cameron (Sr., Mission Viejo, CA) finished fourth in 4:10.61.

While the mile and 3,200m events took home most of the attention, the 800m dash produced some great times for the boys and the girls. Cas Loxson (Sr., Wilbur Cross, CT), who was very impressive during the indoor season, won the boys race in 1:51.05, outdistancing second place Ruben Danielsen (Jr., Rancho Verde, CA), who ran 1:52.85. On the girls side, Justine Fedronic (Sr., Carlmont, CA) added her name to the sub-2:10 list, winning the race over Stephanie Brown (Sr., Tri-Valley, IL), 2:09.27-2:10.33.

There were a handful of other great finishes Saturday evening. Trevor Dunbar (Sr., Kodiak, AK) won the boys 5,000m run in 14:33.96, winning by just over ten seconds. Dana Hills (CA) won the boys distance medley relay with a U.S. top 15 all-time performance, winning by almost 14 seconds in 10:01.50.

Meanwhile, in the girls invitational mile, Sammy Silva (Sr., Our Lady of Peace, CA) beat a very strong field, taking home the top spot over Candace Eddy (Sr., Davis, UT), 4:54.08-4:55.68. In the girls seeded mile, Staci Foster (Sr., Lutheran, OR) ran the third best time in the day, winning the race in 4:55.76.

Arcadia Invitational Meet Website

Arcadia Invitational Results

An Interview with Illinois' Jeff Thode

He may not be nationally recognized just yet, but you can bet he will be by the end of the track season. Illinois' Jeff Thode (Sr., Conant, IL) is a rising star in his senior year, first by winning the Illinois State Cross Country state title, and then running 4:09.94 to win the 1,600m run at the Illinois Prep Top Times meet. As a junior, he ran 4:10.8h at his conference meet. This outdoor season Thode has some big goals, which includes making a run at the four minute mile barrier. We caught up with Jeff and asked him about the IPTT race, what he'll be focusing on in the coming weeks and how he got started in the sport.

Distance Gala Weekly (DGW): You've had a relatively quiet season thus far, only racing a few times during the indoor season and no big races yet during the outdoor season. However, you had quiet the performance the IPTT meet a few weeks back with your 1,600m victory. What was that race like for you?

Jeff Thode (JT): The race for me at IPTT was going to be an exciting race. I got to look at the roster ahead of time to see who I was running up against. Once I saw Andrew's name [Andrew Nelson of Geneva (IL), who ran 4:14.43 for the mile at the Midwest Distance Gala last spring] I knew it was going to come down to me and him at the finish line, since his time was 3 seconds off mine. So, in the end it came down to who had the most leg speed to the finish.

DGW: The outdoor season is starting to heat up. What is the next big focus race for you that you'll be competing in?

JT: My next big focuses are the 800 and the 3200. I will be competing in those races more than the mile, so I can get in some speed in and strengthening work. I will be saving energy for big meets such as invites, conference, sectionals and state.

DGW: It seems as though the 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m events are wide open this year in Illinois. Any chance we'd see you double at the state meet?

JT: Yeah theres a great chance I can, but like I said the 800 and the 3200 will just be to win. Down at state I won't be going for any type of record, unless my coach tells me otherwise.

DGW: It's been said that your goal this year is to try and break the four-minute mile barrier. What do you need to do in order to put yourself into the situation to make a run at it?

JT: Hard workouts to simulate a race-type environment, so when I do race I know what the pace feels like. I'll know when to go faster or stay at the pace that the race started at.

DGW: Not a lot of people know your running background. When did you get started in the sport? When do you feel your really took that leap into being a great runner?

JT: I got started at a school named St. Hubert, where I ran a few times as a fourth grader. I only did two meets that year. After that I went to Frost Junior High and ran again in 7th grade. For my 8th grade year I joined Conant's [where he currently attends high school] summer running and I jumped in time during my 8th grade cross country and track seasons. After that it's been high school training up to this point.

Distance Highlights from Around the U.S.
  • While much of the national attention was focused out west this past weekend, Madeline Morgan (Sr., Mountain Brook, AL) was putting up an amazing distance triple at the Mountain Brook Invitational (AL). Morgan won the 3,200m run easily in 10:35.77, one of the top times in the country this season. She also won the 1,600m run in 4:58.77, while placing second behind Amanda Winslow (Sr., Collins Hill, GA) in the 800m dash, 2:14.88-2:15.87.


  • At the Tampa Distance Carnival on Saturday evening, Connor Revord (Sr., Tampa Jesuit, FL) led wire to wire, winning the boys 1,600m run in 4:11.5h. Revord's time ranks well up in the national rankings, while showing he is close to breaking the 4:10 barrier. Afterwards, Runnerspace.com interviewed Revord, where Revord stated his interest in running the Midwest Distance Gala this post season. Runnerspace.com Video Interview


  • Also at the Tampa Distance Carnival, Darrin Gibson (Sr., Robinson, FL) showed that he'll have a legit shot at running a sub-1:50 800m this spring. Gibson ran away from the field in the 800m event, winning in a U.S. top ten time of 1:52.6h.


  • There are many fast freshmen this year it seems. While Lukas Verzbicas (Sr., Lincoln-Way Central, IL) has received the most attention, Mark Blackmon (Fr., Fort Mill, SC) has performed at an exceptional level all year. Blackmon continued his winning ways this past weekend at the Taco Bell Invitational, which saw him take home the top spot in the mile, beating Isaac Presson (Jr., Asheville, NC) in a photo finish, 4:21.12-4:21.19.


Usain Bolt and a Street Meet Coming to Boston

On Sunday, April 26, Usain Bolt will be in Boston. Bolt will take part in the Puma Street Meet. The street meet is part street festival, part competition, part celebration of the sport, offering all those in attendance something truly unique. Bolt rarely makes appearances in the United States, so this is a great opportunity for track and field fans to interact with the world's most dominant athlete. Two contests, one on Dyestat and one on LetsRun, offer a chance to meet and hang out with Bolt. Take advantage of this opportunity!

Street Meet Contests

Puma Boston Street Meet Contest (LetsRun)

Puma Boston Street Meet Contest (Dyestat)

Additional Articles of Interest

Interview with Ryan Hall (Runner's World)

Interview with Oklahoma State Coach Dave Smith (LetsRun)

World Cross Country Championships in Jeopardy (The Standard)

BAA Elite Mile Fields Announced (US Distance Runner)

Interview with Coach Jerry Schumacher - Part I (The Oregonian)

Interview with Coach Jerry Schumacher - Part II (The Oregonian)

To submit an article or results to Distance Gala Weekly please contact Scott Bush at: [email protected]


The Midwest Distance Gala is one of the premier post-season high school track competitions in the United States. Through strong competition and a professional environment, the Midwest Distance Gala has continued a steady rate of growth and success. The fifth edition of the event takes place on Saturday, June 13, 2009, at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. For more information please visit the Midwest Distance Gala website at www.midwestdistancegala.com. To receive more Midwest Distance Gala info follow us on twitter. Sign up here to receive the Distance Gala Weekly via email.
Distance Gala Weekly Copyright © 2009 Midwest Distance Gala, Inc. Printed with permission.