Saints’ Pence sizzles in 3,200
LITTLETON — There’s breaking your personal record, and then there’s taking your P.R. to the woodshed.
Vail Christian’s Ethan Pence ran a scorching 9 minutes, 34.7 seconds on Friday night at the Liberty Bell Track and Field Invitational in Littleton, obliterating his old mark of 10:01.
“Honestly, I was kind of hoping to break 10,” Pence said. “Maybe: 9:45 or 9:50. I didn’t have any idea it was that quick.”
Putting 9:34.7 into perspective, the 4A Battle Mountain record at altitude— Pence runs for the 2A Saints — is 9:30, held by Jonny Stevens in 2008. That same year the Huskies went to California for a sea-level meet, and John O’Neill put up 9:16. That’s good company for the Vail Christian senior. In fact, O’Neill, when not doing triathlons, has been helping coach Pence.
This has been part of Pence’s grueling regimen, starting back in December. He was running 50 miles per week as the snow fell, and also went to indoor meets at Air Force Academy, Western State Colorado University and Simplot Games up at the University of Idaho.
Pence has also been making a point of going to big meets such as the Liberty Bell to find the competition he needs to lower his times, and he wanted to express his thanks to Vail Christian track coach Tim Pierson for letting him pursue his quest, not to mention O’Neill.
Meets like the Liberty Bell attract the best runners from around the state, regardless of classification, and are good simulations for the state meet.
Pence clocked his first 1,600 in 4:52 on Friday.
“I felt pretty content where I was,” he said. “I wasn’t laboring.”
Clearly he wasn’t as he ended up with a 4:42 for the second mile. He said he caught a look at the scoreboard with about 100 meters to go and saw that he was at 9:20. Still, it wasn’t until Battle Mountain assistant coach Tony Crisofulli told Pence at the finish that he had clocked a 9:34.7.
“I didn’t say anything,” Pence said. “I was in shock.”
After all that arduous training, it’s moments like these that make it all worthwhile.
“It definitely reaffirms everything I’ve been working for,” Pence said. “Running that fast is indescribable. It makes doing what I’m doing worth it. It’s really days like this that keep me running in search of doing that again.”
Pence finished fifth at the Liberty Bell in the 3,200, behind runners from giant-sized 4A and 5A schools.
He also ran a 4:33.09 in the 1,600. That time is just 3 seconds off his P.R.
Meanwhile, Vail Christian’s Cooper Daniels went 14 feet, 11 inches in pole vault at the Vista Ridge Classic on Friday to win. And, not surprisingly, the Saints’ Taylor Alexander won on the girls’ side, going 11 feet.