In most cases, winning the "fast heat" means you win the event overall. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for Margaret Conteh on Sunday at adidas Indoor Nationals.
Still, Conteh, a senior competing with Athletic Development Group, came away with a nice personal best and a second place finish to show for in her trip to Virginia Beach. Conteh won the second section of the Championship 400 meters, which was the "faster" of two final sections based on preliminary round qualifying times.
But it was Aaliyah Pyatt from Virginia, who ran the fastest time from the first of the two final sections to claim the win. Pyatt crossed in 54.69 in the first section. Conteh went 54.72 to win her section. Pyatt took the overall victory by just .03.
adidas Indoor Nationals Coverage: Results | Race Videos | Photos
|1||Aaliyah Pyatt||12||MVP League||54.69||1|
|2||Margaret Conteh||12||Athletic Development Group||54.72||2|
|3||Lauren Tolbert||11||Unattached NC||54.81||2|
|4||Hali Murphy||11||Leander Spartans Track Club||54.84||1|
|5||Mia O'Neil||12||Virginia Beach Flames||54.96||1|
|6||Micah Trusty||11||Infinity Track Club||55.02||2|
|7||Jada Roundtree||12||Motor City Track Club||55.22||1|
|8||Sanaa Hebron||11||Unattached - PA||55.27||2|
It was a brilliantly executed race from Conteh, though. Starting on the outside lane six, she was forced to run blind on the first lap. She won the race to the rail at the midway point, getting past fellow PA quarter miler Micah Trusty.
From there, it was all about holding on for Conteh. She did just that holding off a challenge on her shoulder from Trusty, as well as a late push from the top qualifier from the prelims, Lauren Tolbert from North Carolina.
Conteh's time of 54.72 tops her PR in the event, which she set last year as a junior when she went 54.94 at Eastern States. Her time is also close to a second better than her previous season best, a 55.59 that she ran in the prelims. Conteh's 54.72 is a PA No. 1 and US No. 7 on the season.
But it just wasn't quite enough to grab the national title. Pyatt's time managed to hold up. It would have been interesting to see what would happen with a one heat final, particularly in an event like the 400 meters, where race tactics play a major role.
Conteh wasn't the only impressive Pennsylvania girl in the 400 final. Trusty went 55.02, a PA No. 2 time, for sixth overall. Sanaa Hebron wasn't far off, taking eighth in 55.27, a PA No. 3. All three PA finalists clocked season bests in the 400 final.
Watch both 400 meter finals below, with Pyatt's section 1 first, followed by Conteh's section 2: