Haik defends 1,600 title

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Spencer Haik kick proved valuable yet again, but it was not the way he envisioned using it.

After a modest first two laps in the 1,600-meter run at a 2:12 pace, things tightened up on the final lap. Haik, a junior at Glendale, was forced to start his kick much earlier than he typically would use it to match the moves of Truman’s Cole Rockhold and Marquette’s Noah Kauppila.

Haik closed in a final lap of 56.8 to defend his Class 4 state title Friday at Dwight T. Reed Stadium with a winning time of 4:12.81.

“I saw those guys fly by and thought, ‘Oh man I’ve got to move,’” Haik said. “I didn’t realize how slow I was going. It caught my attention. I’m glad it did because I wouldn’t have pulled through like that. They were jostling on the back stretch as they went past us, and it kind of startled us, but I got back in it.

“I try not to rely on (my kick), but yet it always comes back. I’m glad it’s there. It saves me a lot.”

Rockhold started speeding things up with about 300 meters left in the race. Kauppila saw the move and was the first to respond.

“I knew Spencer was going to have a great kick, but I wasn’t expecting Cole to go that fast,” said Kauppila, who finished second in 4:13.57. “I started accelerating as well and then was like, ‘Whatever, I’ll go for it and take the lead.’ Spencer eventually got me. It was a really fast lap.

“I was definitely not ready to do that yet, but I went with him. You need to cover the move because it’s the last lap and you don’t have much time left.”

Rockhold, was hip-to-hop with Kauppila at the finish and took third in 4:13.68. Blue Springs’ Stephen Mugeche led the first half of the race and took fourth in 4:15.53, and Chris Mooneyham of Glendale held on for fifth (4:16.20) after briefly pushing the pace on the third lap.

“I was hoping to just sit on people and get closer to the time I wanted,” Mooneyham said. “I saw the 800 was really slow, so I took it out and hoped people would go with me and make it more of a race instead of a sit-and-kick thing. It worked a little bit.”

Mooneyham’s move to the front caught Haik off guard.

“I was surprised when he blew past me,” Haik said. “I was like, ‘Holy … that’s my teammate.’”

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