Ashley Erba just continues her amazing accomplishments on the track.
The Warsaw Community High School star used a record-setting performance Thursday night to win the 5,000-meter championship race at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina.
“It’s just really exciting and incredible to me to break the record,” said Erba in a phone interview Friday morning as she was en route back home. “It’s just awesome that it happened. I’m not sure it’s totally even sunk in yet when I think about all the great runners who have competed in that meet.”
Erba, who won the state championship in the 3,200-meter run on June 1 at IU, blazed past defending champ Wesley Frazier to win the race in a record time of 16:18.21. Her mark broke the nationals record of 16:18.91 set in 2008 by Ashley Brasovan and gives Erba the No. 8 all time effort and No. 2 this season.
“I had high hopes for myself going in, but you never know,” said Erba. “We prepared very well for this and had great training. It just all came together and that’s awesome when it happens.”
“The first mile was a little slower than we wanted, but I was in a good spot. I then just said okay let’s pick it up. I was aware of my splits and knew during the race I was on pace to break the meet record. I was like oh my goodness when I finished and knew I had done it. I was just extremely excited and pleased after the race.”
Erba, who made the trip with her father/coach Scott, dominated the race Thursday night after the opening mile. Frazier ended up in third place with a time of 16:51.04, while runner-up Danielle Anderson clocked in at 16:43.65.
Erba, who was competing in her first-ever 5,000-meter run on a track and in her first Nationals, captured the state cross country championship last fall in covering the 5K course in 18:05.6. Erba, who will be a senior this fall at WCHS, dominated the field in the 3,200 at the track State Finals June 1 in Bloomington to win in 10:24.94 (not far off the state meet record of 10:20.66 set by Waverly Neer of Culver Academy in 2011).
“I’m definitely on the right track to do some good things,” said Erba in an understatement for the distance phenom who prefers to run longer races. “This is a huge thing as far as my future and the next level.”
The 22nd running of the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, which required participants to achieve qualifying times to enter and featured many of the nation’s top track and field athletes, took place at North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro.
Erba, already known as one of the top distance runners in Indiana history, definitely made a name for herself Thursday night on the national scene and among college coaches for the recruiting process for her promising career after WCHS.
“It’s exciting to be known on that next level,” said Erba without a hint of cockiness. “I think that a lot more people will know me and notice me now after this.
“I’m just excited for what is to come for me. To run 16:18.21 after not going under 18 last year in cross country makes me see how much more I can improve. This is a huge boost for me going into the summer and cross country season in the fall.
“It’s been a great track season and this just is adding to it.”