CHATHAM–Four member of the High school’s boy’s indoor track squad traveled to the New Balance Armory in New York City Saturday, January 5 to compete in the Hispanic Games, and one, Ross Wightman, set a national schoolboy record in the steeplechase.
The Panthers were one of over 300 teams to compete in the games, which drew over 6,000 athletes in various events. In addition to Wightman, Chatham track and field athletes Ian Allen, Tyler Rivera and Ryan Mackerer also competed in the event.
Wightman, the star of the day, set a national record in the invitation-only, one-mile steeplechase in a time of 4:38.44, shattering the previous record by 12 seconds. Allen, running against a stacked field in hot and muggy indoor conditions, finished ninth with a time three seconds faster than his coaches had anticipated.
The steeplechase was contested in a single heat, where Wightman was seeded 9th and Allen, his sophomore teammate, 12th. Wightman got out in the front pack and stayed consistently close to the leader according to his coach and father, Steve Wightman. “With two laps to go Ross caught Alvarado on the backstretch steeple,” said the elder Wightman after the event, referring to the runner who had led the race. He said Alvarado was startled and “instantly lost 10 feet and ultimately 6 more seconds as Ross closed the final 400 very fast.”
Mackerer had a solid indoor meet as well, running 56.3 in the 400m and breaking Quinn Calhoun’s school record in the event by fractions of a second. Tyler Rivera cleared 6′ in the high jump, nearly matching his previous best of 6’1″ while using just half a run-up.