Hi everyone! My name is Sara Sargent and I am a Junior at Pennsbury High School. My blog is about my amazing experience competing in the first ever US Open and the races I competed in to get invited to such a prestigious event.
After the cross country season, I decided to take a few weeks off to rest. Going into the indoor season, I immediately set goals I wanted to accomplish. The US Open, however, was not on my list. When my coach, Tim Cass, forwarded me the email that I was invited to compete at Madison Square Garden (one of my favorite places to run) I was ecstatic. Some of the races I did before the US Open were the North Shore Invitational, and the Hispanic Games at the Armory. Both were great races and really prepared me for Madison Square Garden.
When I woke up on race day, running that night was not the only thing I was focussed on. Before I could completely give my attention to the race, I had to get through the SATs first. I started testing early Saturday morning, and got home around one in the afternoon. I immediately had to get changed, eat a good lunch, and head to New York City. I arrived at the meet headquarters around four to check in and get my credentials. There, I saw Dustin Wilson in the lobby and introduced myself to him. We were both very excited, and nervous about the meet! I still had a good 1 1/2 hours before athletes were allowed in the Garden. My dad’s work is right across the street, so we were able to go hang out there for a bit. Before we knew it, it was time for me to head over to the Garden to get my bib number and jog on the track. Once again, I ran into Dustin and we jogged for a little bit together.
The track was exactly how I remembered it from freshman year, and I have to say, I’ve missed it! The feeling you get when stepping onto the track at Madison Square Garden is unexplainable. It is amazing to think how many unbelievable runners, performers, and athletes have stood right where I was standing looking up at all the stands. I was able to get a feel for the track again. It is much smaller then other indoor tracks around the country. Here, it is 11 laps to the mile. After jogging, I relaxed for a bit and started my warm ups for the race. It was so cool to be warming up around professional runners like Bernard Lagat, and Lolo Jones!
Finally, it was race time. The gun went off and it was a very bumpy start to say the least. All the girls had a rough time getting into position. After about 2 laps the race finally broke in. My plan going into it was not to focus on time, but to focus on my position in the race. I wanted to stay in contact with whomever the leader was as long as I could, and see what I could do the last 2 laps. We went out in about a 71 which was exactly what I expected. I felt pretty good all the way through the end. I finished with fourth place and a time of 5:01. I thought my time would have been a little faster, but I am still happy with my performance.
My coach Tim Cass and his whole family was right near the track cheering me on. I could especially here my little sister, Julia, cheering for me throughout the entire race! I want to congratulate all the girls for their performances and competing in the first ever US Open Indoor Championships! I want to especially recognize Samantha Nadel for an unbelievable performance and running the fastest time ever at Madison Square Garden for the high school girls mile. Congrats Sam!!
After the race, I had a chance to spend a lot of time with some of the runners. I warmed down with Dana Giordano who placed third in my race. We were a little star struck when seeing Bernard Lagat so we asked him for an autograph and a picture. It was awesome to be able to hangout with the pros like him. The rest of the night was spent mostly with Samantha Nadel and Brianna Nerud. They introduced me to another great runner, Tom Awad. They are all so nice, and so much fun to hang out with! I look forward to seeing them at upcoming meets. I also got a chance to say hello to an old friend and competitor of mine, Ajee Wilson. We have competed against each other since we started running AAU in the summer a number of years ago. How exciting to watch her run in the elite women’s 800 and to see her again!
After the meet was over, I enjoyed my mint chocolate chip ice cream as I do after every race. Running in the US Open at Madison Square Garden is something that I will never forget. It was such an unbelievable experience and I hope to be fortunate enough to run there again next year.