At Freihofer’s, Hall wins, but Chmiel shines

Saratoga Springs sophomore top local finisher
Sara Hall closed the gap in the final 500 meters to win the Freihofer's Run for Women.
Sara Hall closed the gap in the final 500 meters to win the Freihofer's Run for Women.

ALBANY — Saratoga Springs’ Kelsey Chmiel is off to a very fast June.

The sophomore cruised to win in the 3,000 meters at the state qualifier Thursday, then the 1,500 meters Friday. Those victories were widely expected.

Still, she entered Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K under the radar. A first-timer in the race known for drawing elite talent from around the country, the 15-year-old was not afforded her usual spotlight.

“Today I didn’t really know what to expect because I’ve never run here before,” Chmiel said. “So, I just got out hard and saw what could happen.”

What happened is what usually happens when Kelsey Chmiel races.

Chmiel, who holds the best 3,000 time among sophomores across the nation this year, was the top local finisher in Saturday’s road race, finishing ninth overall.

In most races, Sara Hall, the 2016 runner-up who made a pass in the last 50 meters to win by less than two seconds Saturday, would be the “Wow” moment. However, a high schooler beating most of the nation’s elite entered steals the show.

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All eyes were set on the competitors with resumes filled with Olympics appearances, top 10 finishes at the the world’s most prestigious marathons and strong performances at the U.S. Track and Field Championships — and rightfully so.

But about halfway through the race, Chmiel realized she was doing OK and had a chance at a high finish. She wasn’t quite sure what place she was in, but she just kept pushing ahead.

Chmiel said the event stood out from her scholastic competitions. The teen noted she got to compete against high-caliber talent, the size of the crowd cheering along the route and the multitude of runners racing only against their personal best times or for fun.

The race also had a good pace, Chmiel said, which will help with her training ahead of states next weekend in Endicott.

“It’s definitely different to run with people of all ages, rather than just my age,” Chmiel said.

Even if the result is the same.

Hall at the wire

The California state high school championships almost kept this year’s champion Hall from competing in the Freihofer’s at all.

The Redding, Calif., woman held off on committing to the race because she was waiting to see if her daughter would qualify. When she didn’t, the 2016 runner-up got in touch with Freihofer’s race officials to see if she could still get in the field.

That was four days ago. Hall previously thought about the chance to redeem herself this time around for her 2016 defeat, but due to the quick switch in schedule she just wanted to come out, have fun and run like she had nothing to lose.

And she didn’t. Lose, that is.

Hall said she knew when she was still in contact of the leader about a mile and half in that she had a chance.

“I just tried to focus on gaining a little … ground and then, just [stay] within striking distance with the long downhill,” Hall said.

Last June, Hall was just a little too far behind to close the gap on the final hill heading down the Washington Avenue side of the Capitol. This year, her task was overtaking Aliphine Tuliamuk of New Mexico, who grabbed the lead on the first incline and held it until Hall made her pass with less than a football field of pavement to cover.

Tuliamuk is the defending 5K champion at the U.S. Track and Field Championships. As the race entered Washington Park, she gained separation. The pack of leaders thinned from 15 all the way down to three, and as Hall finished the loop around the lake and made her exit, she was left to battle with Lindsey Scherf from Scarsdale for the chance to challenge the front runner.

Tuliamuk felt Hall coming as they approached the state Capitol, but it was the last 800 meters where she knew Hall had a good kick. That was a gear Tuliamuk, better at pulling away mid-race, recognized she didn’t have.

Hall, a strong downhill runner, let her instincts from her days running track kick in toward the finish as she set her sights on the finish line — rather than the woman in front of her — as she made her move.

Rhines top master

Jen Rhines, 42, a three-time Olympian in the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon from Boston, Mass., was the top master’s finisher, crossing the line in 13th.

“I come to a race like this and one of my former training partners, Sara Hall, wins the race and Carmen Troncoso was here,” Rhines said. “Carmen and I were actually on a world cross team back in 1999. It kind of brings everyone together and spans all the ages, so I really enjoy these events.”

Top Finishers

Sara Hall, 34, Redding, Calif. 15:48.9

Aliphine Tuliamuk, 28, Sante Fe, NM 15:50.3

Lindsey Scherf, 30, Scarsdale 16:09.9

Becky Wade, 28, Louisville, Colo. 16:15.3

Katie Matthews, 26, Brighton, Mass. 16:18.7

Jamie Cheever, 30, Seattle, Wash. 16:26.7

Renee Metivier, 35, Bend. Ore. 16:29.4

Meghan Peyton, 31, Bloomington, Minn. 16:31.1

Kelsey Chmiel, 15, Greenfield Center 16:42.1 (1)

Ashley Higginson, 28, Morristown, NJ 16:46.6

Kathryn Potter, 28, Honeoye Falls 17:07.1

Nicole Dimercurio, 26, Blowing Rock, SC 17:08.4

Jen Rhines, 42, Boston, Mass. 17:13.6 (2)

Amy Van Alstine, 29, Flagstaff, Ariz. 17:15.9

Maegan Krifchin, 29, Silver Spring, MD 17:22.2

Mollie Turner, 37, Averill Park 17:27.7

Amy Bevilacqua, 43, Southbury, Conn. 17:31.5

Trisha Byler, 33, Honeoye Falls 17:36.5

Eva Scott, 18, Burnt Hills 17:40.5

Ashley Nevol, 27, Andover 17:53.4

Karen Bertasso, 32, Albany 17:54.5

Erin Lopez, 36, Saratoga Springs 17:55.3

Sara Dunham, 40, Plattsburgh 17:56.1

Brittany Griffin, 28, Norwich, Conn. 18:05.0

Christy Peterson, 49, Chicago, Ill. 18:05.2

Sylvie Lloyd, 30, Clifton Park 18:08.2

Nicole Soblosky, 29, Albany 18:20.1

Hannah Reinhardt, 19, Albany 18:20.5

Hannah Brooker, 26, Albany 18:21.2

Abigail Gugel, 19, Jordan 18:21.8

Maddie Dery, 21, Putnam Valley 18:23.9

Kathryn Tenney, 15, Albany 18:27.2

Heather Webster, 43, Honeoye Falls 18:29.6

Donna Langerfeld, 31, Port Byron 18:33.6

Emily Layden, 28, Albany 18:37.8

Shannen Kerin, 18, Albany 18:38.1

Rachel Hodge, 15, Delmar 18:40.8

Erin Corcoran, 43, Schenectady 18:43.0

Courtney Breiner, 20, Troy 18:45.4

Rachel Cackett, 26, Rochester 18:47.2

Christie Macfarlane, 22, Delmar 18:47.7

Brittany Winslow, 23, Malta 18:51.7

Olivia Beltrani, 23, Pleasant Valley 18:54.2

Felicia Sciortino, 21, Schenectady 18:56.6

Mary Pardi, 47, Falmouth, Maine 19:00.5

Samantha Vetter, 17, Greenfield Center 19:01.8

Madeline Harris, 24, Albany 19:11.0

Erin Hatton, 27, Troy 19:18.0

Joan Benoit Samuelson, 60, Freeport, Maine 19:23.7

Meg Versteegen, 38, Schenectady 19:24.1

  1. — Top local finisher

  2. — Top master’s finisher

CORRECTION: This version corrects the distance from the finish line that Sara Hall made her pass to win the race.

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