Edwards Finishes Eighth at Nationals
By KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports EditorBellingham’s Sarah Edwards saved her best race for last. Competing at the New Balance National Outdoor Track Championships in Greensboro, NC, the 5-foot-5 Tri Valley League all-star finished eighth in the 800-meter race in 2:09.47. Her time was a personal best; it broke her own outdoor school record and gave her the fastest time for a high school female runner in the 800 this year in all of Massachusetts.
The competition was run in three separate heats at the campus of North Carolina A & T. Edwards, who was first in her heat, finished eighth in a field of 28 runners from all over the country. If she had placed 1-6 or had shaved .4 of a second off her time, she would have achieved All-America status.
Edwards, who’ll be a senior in the fall, said the race was the highlight of her junior year. “I’m very excited,” she said emphatically. “To break 2:10 was my goal. I’m also delighted that my time established me as the fastest 800 runner in Massachusetts for 2015. I traveled far to achieve this result and it definitely was well worth it.”
Edwards ran a trouble-free race. Because the runners started in lanes, there were no episodes of being cut off at the start or getting boxed in. She led from start to finish and coped well in the 90-degree heat and light breeze.
Peter Lacasse, Bellingham High’s track coach, attended the meet and was extremely proud of his star runner. “Sarah’s goal for the entire 2015 season was achieved today [June 21],” Lacasse said. “Her previous best of 2:11.73 was shattered. She simply ran a fantastic race, getting out fast, holding her own, then finishing strong. She was confident and tough.”
A veteran at coaching track, Lacasse labeled Edwards as “the best female runner in Bellingham history.” There’s little argument in that statement because the 17-year-old now holds four records in outdoor track, three indoors and one in cross-country. She’s also part of four relays records.
“When I ran my first 800 race as a freshman, I set a school record,” Edwards recalled. “That really got me more interested in track, and it made me feel like I can really make a mark in this sport.”
Edwards, who ran track and played soccer and basketball in her freshman and sophomore years, devoted her efforts strictly to track and cross-country as a junior. She’s been a TVL all-star in indoor and outdoor track and cross-country. She also was the league’s MVP in outdoor track as a sophomore and cross-country as a junior.
Already contacted by 40 colleges and universities, Edwards met coaches at the national meet in North Carolina from West Point, Harvard and the University of Richmond. “It was nice to meet coaches and hear their compliments,” Edwards said. “The exposure one gets at a national meet is huge. I definitely want to compete in college at a Division 1 school.”
Ivy League colleges likely will be high on her list. She’s a straight-A student and ranks second in her class. She plans to major in architecture and design and wants to select a college that is ranked high academically.
After the national meet, Edwards took two weeks off, then began captains’ practice for cross-country in July. She also is spending time this summer with a personal trainer, lifting weights and running. Later this month, she plans to run in the 7.1-mile Falmouth Road Race.
The personable Edwards also is focused on her final year at Bellingham and has some specific objectives in mind. “I always strive to lower my times and achieve personal bests,” she noted. “In cross-country, I want to repeat as TVL champion and I want to stay unbeaten. In indoor track, my goal is to run in the 2:50 vicinity in the 1000, and outdoors I want to get to 2:08 or better in the 800. I’d also like to lower my time in the mile to around 4:55.”
The meet in North Carolina was her second appearance in a national championship. She competed in March at the New Balance Indoor Track Championship in New York City, where she finished 16th in a field of 26.
Before her trip to North Carolina, Edwards wrapped up her spring schedule with a trio of ultra-successful meets—the MIAA Division 4 Championships, the All-State Meet and the New England Track Championships. Edwards finished third in the 800 in a time of 2:11.74 at the New England Championships in Saco, ME. She set a meet record in the mile at the Division 4 Championships at Norwell by winning the event. Her time was 4:58.74, breaking her previous best of 5:02. She also finished second in the 800 in 2:14.22. At the All-State Meet in Fitchburg, she finished second in the 800 in a time of 2:11.73.
Edwards admits that she enjoys the well-wishes and all the positive comments after a race but also says she copes with nerve-wracking pressure before most of her competitions. She’ll face many more challenging meets, but there’s little doubt that Sarah Edwards will constantly be in the spotlight in what should be a banner senior year for Bellingham High’s premier female runner.