VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA- National Champion freshmen girls mile, National Champion 800m girls, National Champion Mile girls. That has a nice ring to it.
It is plausible to believe that Normal Community High School freshman Ali Ince still had basketball on her mind as she drove to the airport to catch a flight to her first indoor track and field national championship meet. The complexity of the Covid-19 has wrecked the world's plan for nearly a year. Certainly, it has done so for a 14-year-old multi-sports star.
As for Ava Parekh, she has been chopping at the national elite since winning the NBNI freshman indoor mile title two seasons ago. Now, the Chicago Latin junior can add national mile champion to her resume.
Both champions albeit in criss-cross action. Ince got her first title of the day in the morning competing against a field of talented ninth graders. "She is going to compete in the 800m Championship race and the Freshman mile race," said her mother Addie Ince prior to the festivities. Because of logistics, Ince could have competed in the Championship Mile. "In hindsight, we should have put her in the Championship [Mile] race... but we thought the best 9th graders would all run in the 9th only race... that doesn't appear to be the case," added a thoughtful Ms. Ince.
In a span of 45 minutes, Ince ran possessed down the stretch of both races, evoking the meet announcers to make comparisons to the great Mary Decker. Ince won the championship 800m under 2:10 and that expands her range to another level moving forward.
The incredible poise not seen by many youngsters was measured in the tune of 4:50.54 and 2:09.42- US#7 and US#5 respectively.
Parekh is one of the most patient runners on the scene. "I have a lot of third place and fourth medals in my trophy case," said Parekh recently with a genuine smile. That's probably because she has been matched up against some of the fastest and most talented girls in distance running history. It's rare to run 10:15.96 in the two-mile like she did on Saturday evening and lose.
Sunday's race started a bit ominous when Josephine Welin of Oak Park-River Forest IL stumbled just after the start and fell. Ava Gordon of Loudoun Valley, VA tripped also- taking her out of the race.
The restart prompted a dialed-in Audrey Dadamio of Birmingham, MI to take an early commanding lead. After a first half-mile in 2:21, Parekh completely closed things down and it was a new ball game.
At the 3/4 mile mark in 3:35, Parekh's body language was on the ascent, and on the next circuit, it was clear that the race was hers to lose. Parekh, however, sensing blood in the water like Jaws, would show no mercy, she powered home to a new personal best US#2 4:47.17 thrilling win. Finally, the nice and patient girl role paid off. You can bet there is a spot in Parekh's trophy case for the new gold medal.