Girls: Mortensen surprised herself with a national high school record in the 3,200.
To those who watched her run away from Julia Stamps of Santa Rosa High in the State championships nearly three weeks ago, Kim Mortensen of Thousand Oaks has a surprising revelation.
The Times’ Valley girls’ track and field athlete of the year did not enter that 3,200-meter race determined to beat the two-time defending champion. Her only goal was to run as well as she could.
“I just wanted to go for time,” Mortensen said of her first state title. “It’s really hard for me to say I want to beat one certain person. To say that is getting too competitive for me.”
UCLA-bound Mortensen was regarded as a very good high school runner after winning the national cross-country championships in December--a race in which defending champion Stamps was not 100%--but she bolstered that reputation in track.
She ran a national high school record of 9 minutes 48.59 seconds in the 3,200 in the Southern Section Masters Meet four weeks ago to cut more than 11 seconds off the previous outdoor best.
She also produced yearly nation-leading times of 4:44.9 in the 1,600 and 9:14.5 in the 3,000. Her 3,000 clocking, which came during her record 3,200, moved her to fourth on the all-time national performer list.
Mortensen and Thousand Oaks distance Coach Jack Farrell did not set preseason goals in the 1,600 or 3,200.
“We talked about the 800,” she said. “He said, ‘I think we can get your 800 time down to around 2:15 and that ought to help your times in the [1,600] and [3,200].’ ”
Mortensen’s best 800 was 2:18, but she ran 10:17 or faster six times in the 3,200 and dipped under 4:53 five times in the 1,600. Her 9:52.80 clocking in the 3,200 in the State meet was the second-fastest outdoor time ever and her 10:03.11 effort in the Southern Section Division I championships two weeks earlier ranks sixth.
“It was surprising,” Mortensen said of a season that might earn her Track & Field News magazine’s national athlete of the year honors. “I don’t think I would have believed it at the start of the year. But I like surprises. And I certainly had some of those this season.”