Luke Thompson | Yakima Herald-Republic - July 2, 2022
The Downtown Yakima Mile’s perfect streak of state records hit three races thanks to a familiar face breaking the tape Saturday night.
Defending champion Sam Prakel pulled away late to finish in a time of 3:50.5, more than a full second faster than Amos Bartelsmeyer’s 3:51.79 at the inaugural race in June 2019. Nikki Hiltz set the Washington women’s record with a winning time of 4:21.5 in 2021, when Prakel outsprinted a loaded field to win in 3:54.
That earned him $5,000, and he added an extra $10,000 in prize money this year thanks to the new Washington record. Prakel said he felt secure in first with about 100 meters to go as he left second-place finisher Kieran Lumb nearly two full seconds behind.
“I thought I was going to tie up but then I kind of found another gear just around the last block of the street,” Prakel said. “Dug deep and saw the clock clicking down 3:48, 3:49….I was really gunning for that state record.”
Johnny Gregorek decided before the race he might try to help his training partner by setting a fast pace, and he dropped off around the half-mile mark. Prakel said he felt a little stronger than Gregorek a week after the two sprinted to the finish at last week’s National Championships in Eugene, Ore., where Gregorek passed his friend late to beat him by .13 seconds.
Lumb, who just completed his master’s at the University of Washington and occasionally runs with Prakel in Seattle, kept the race fast from the start as well. He took a brief lead after Gregorek dropped off and felt great about earning the $3,000 second-place prize in his first career road mile.
“I figured it would be good to just push it from the start,” Lumb said. “I think for me coming at this event from a strength perspective, a mile isn’t quite so scary as it would be if I was an 800 runner.”
He said especially with the race’s downhill stretch in the first quarter mile, it felt more physically difficult than a track race but also mentally easier since the remaining distance isn’t always so clear. Lumb narrowly held off Colten Johnson, who took home $1,000 for third place.
After two wins in two tries, it’s no surprise Prakel said Yakima’s quickly becoming one of his favorite road miles. He gave credit to another sizeable crowd for helping him bounce back from a disappointing finish last week, when he took the lead into the last 100 meters of a relatively slow 1,500 meter race and finished in eighth place.
“(Yakima’s) definitely a harder course than people think,” Prakel said. “Even though the first quarter mile is slightly downhill it still takes a pretty long grind after you hit 800. It’s tough seeing the finish line the whole time because you think it’s close but it’s not.”
In the high school race, Selah’s Eric Swedin beat West Valley’s Max Hutton by three seconds to win the boys high school race with a time of 4:29. Idaho’s Josiah Anderson won the $500 first-place prize for the men’s Open race, finishing just under 4:15.
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