Anna Foreman (l), Alena Ellsworth (c), and Jasmine Stauffacher Gray (r) should make for a very entertaining Division 1 Girls 400m race.
Why Is This the Event of the Meet? Three of the state best track athletes regardless of event or division will go head to head in the girls D1 400m. North Canyon senior Jasmine Stauffacher-Gray has the chance to do something special this race. She has the chance to become a 4x state champion in the same event. How special is this? Well let's put it this way, even Dani Jones won't be able to achieve that feat. She will face stiff competition, especially from Highland sophomore Alena Ellsworth. Alena held the fastest time in state in the 400m for a few weeks in April and will be looking to regain that title at the state meet. She also wants to win a championship since her sister, Lauren Ellsworth cannot. Lauren, the Arizona 800m state record holder, was sidelined with an ACL tear last fall and has not yet made a full recovery. This has to be huge motivation. With Lauren heading off to run for a top tier NCAA D1 program next season, this might be the only individual state title Lauren will get to see her win if she can pull off the upset. Chandler super frosh Anna Foreman may be on the outside looking in but discounting her would be very presumptive. In her freshman year she has turned heads clocking some of the state's fastest times.
Why Jasmine Stauffacher-Gray will win: Well she has won the last three hasn't she? If that's not enough to make her the favorite, the fact that she has the fastest time in the state cements it. To add forsting on top it is safe to say Jasmine has the best speed of the group based off of her 200m times. After learning how to handle the pressure of big meets as a freshman at the Chandler Rotary, Jasmine has thrived off of high level competition. This season she clocked some impressive times in the 300H and 400m at Arcadia and Mt. Sac. Jasmine has also never been beat in the state of Arizona at 400m this season or last. While anyone who knows her will know she isn't over confident, she certainly knows she can win if she runs her race.
Why Alena Ellsworth will win: Did I mention the motivation of having Lauren in the stands watching? Don't discount that. Alena also has a nice tall stride and trains in Coach Monty's 800m factory (seriously, take a look at 4x800m results, Highland is dominate). In fact, Alena was part of the state record 4x800m from last season. She has also been working on her speed this season racing several 200m dashes. While her speed doesn't quite match up to Jasmine's, the 400m is as much about sheer will power and toughness as speed. Those 800m races and workouts will certainly help her dig deep on the home stretch. Will it be enough? Possibly. Jasmine has a tough schedule running both the 300H and the 400m. Alena's fresh(er) legs might just prove decisive.
Why Anna Foreman will win: It may sounds weird calling a 55.79 runner an underdog but that's just what Anna is. The Chandler Lady Wolf is a dark horse that no one expects to win. With that being said, please remember the 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers. They were the very first 6th seed to win the Super Bowl. No one expected that upset either. Anna trains under the expert guidance of Matt Lincoln and Eric Richardson. As evidenced by Chandler's team success it's safe to say she is very well coached. At the Brophy AMDG Invitational she displayed patience beyond her years while defeating Asiah Fields. Asiah took an early lead, but Anna reeled her in like a fish on a string. Its Anna's signature to make up ground late. Anna will run the race smart. If Alena and Jasmine falter even a little I am sure the freshman would love to try and win 4 straight herself.
Whoever wins, count on it to be a special race. The complete division 1 state preview can be found here. Heat Sheets for the entire meet can be found here. General information and schedules can be found here.