Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Distance runners Rathjen and Blunt double up titles from cross country to track
AUSTIN – Distance runners Natalie Rathjen and Carter Blunt, both Class 4A cross country champs, continued their dominance of the Lone Star State at the UIL track and field championships Friday.
Rathjen, a Highland Park senior, redeemed a disappointing result at last year’s state meet in a big way — setting a 4A record in the 3,200 meters on the way to a gold medal at Mike A. Myers Stadium. She blew away the field with a wire-to-wire lead and finished in 10 minutes, 23.92 seconds, nearly 20 seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
Blunt, a Frisco Heritage sophomore, has already appeared in two state track meets and won his first gold in the 3,200 meters in 9:14.34. He finished nearly 10 seconds ahead of second place.
“My whole senior year has been focused on accomplishing the goals that went unfinished the last three years,” said Rathjen, who spurned athletic scholarships to run for Princeton next season.
Both runners medaled in the 1,600 later in the day. Blunt earned his second gold, and Rathjen earned bronze.
Rathjen is the two-time cross country champion and was named the Gatorade runner of the year in January. She qualified for the state track meet all four years of her career but never won gold until Friday.
As a junior, Rathjen pulled up after six laps of the 3,200 and did not finish. She said she was suffering from allergies from rainfall the day before and had difficulty breathing.
Despite storms all day Thursday and more rain Friday, Rathjen was feeling 100 percent while shaving 15 seconds off her season-best time in the 3,200.
“I made sure to stay indoors yesterday and drank Pedialyte all night,” she said with a laugh.
Blunt took sixth place last season in both the 3,200 and 1,600. He said the results were a disappointment but also an important learning experience.
Blunt won nearly every race he ran this season, but it was clear even after winning two golds that he aspires for more.
“I was hoping somebody would push me a little bit sooner,” Blunt said of the 3,200. “I’m very aerobically strong. I’m still working on my speed, but I can hang with anybody.”
Blunt’s fastest time in the 3,200 this season is 9:03.10, which is four seconds faster than the 4-year-old state meet record.
He was hoping to run the 3,200 in less than nine minutes and the 1,600 in 4:12, but he still has two more years to achieve those goals.