Scotts Valley High junior Ashlyn Boothby had one simple goal going into last week’s CIF State Track and Field Championships of trying to set a new personal record in the 1,600 meters to close out the regular season.
The standout Falcons runner not only blew her previous mark out of the water, but she now holds the second fastest time in the entire nation this year.
That’s right, in all 50 of the United States.
“Definitely wasn’t expecting to do that well, so I kind of shocked myself,” she said.
Boothby placed second in 4 minutes, 39.45 seconds—a new school record—at Buchanan High School in Clovis on May 27.
She finished six seconds behind Ventura High sophomore Sadie Engelhardt, who won the race in 4:33.65, followed by Del Norte senior Hannah Riggins (4:41.42) in third, Montgomery sophomore Hanne Thomsen in fourth (4:43.63) and Etiwanda senior Janelle Avilez (4:45.83) to round off the top five.
“It was really amazing having the opportunity to run against such a stacked field,” Boothby said. “I knew that there would be a lot of people to pace with because everybody was super fast.”
Boothby said the atmosphere at Buchanan High was unmatched and it was a special moment when she crushed her previous best mark of 4:45.95 she set at Arcadia Invitational on April 8.
Boothby’s time moved her up to second in the country this year, ahead of Jane Hedengren of Timpview, Utah, in 4:39.53 and Emma Stutzman of Pomona, Colo., in 4:39.94.
“Since Saturday, I still cannot put it into words,” said Scotts Valley coach Todd Hoffman. “It’s just phenomenal. There’s been ups and downs, but she just trusted the process and knew it was gonna hurt a little bit.”
Scotts Valley freshman Ava Decleve (56.35) capped off her incredible season with a 13th place finish in the 400 and nearly qualified for Saturday’s finals, while fellow teammate senior Mason Lantz (1:57.08) took 23rd in the 800.
Hoffman mentioned the trio of Falcons train hard, yet they’re still lifting each other up so that each of them can reach their goals. He said the experience of being able to race on a big stage will eventually pay off.
“All of them have worked so hard,” Hoffman said. “They just train smart and it’s just fun to watch them.”
Boothby remembers being intimidated by Engelhardt and all the rest of the field in last year’s state championships.
This year she had a bit more experience under her belt and Boothby was prepared to go up against the competition. She went into the race without any real strategy and instead reacted to what was happening in the race.
Boothby knew Engelhardt would take off right out the gate, so it was all about staying in front of the rest of the pack.
This season, she was chasing a sub 4:45 time in the 1,600, which is her ultimate choice when it comes to competing for track. Anything below that almost seemed impossible.
“I’m still kind of in shock,” Boothby said. “It hasn’t sunk in at all. It doesn’t feel real, but that was crazy. I did not expect that to be the case. So super excited about that.”
Hoffman said the runners sometimes get caught up in times and attempt to hit a certain split on every lap, which can end up being a distraction.
“For a long time, I’ve been saying stop looking at your watch,” he said. “Stop worrying about that and just be in the race because once you look at your watch, you check out for a second.”
Hoffman said there might not be such a thing as a perfect race, yet the way Boothby ran last week was as close as it’ll ever get.
Boothby is hopeful that college scouts—especially those in NCAA Division I—will start taking interest in her talents. She wants to compete in some place where she can continue to test herself.
For now, she still has the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Ore., on June 15 and a small break prior to summer training for the upcoming cross country season in Fall 2023.
Boothby said this season was truly enjoyable and she had fun training with her teammates, especially her siblings—Amber and Aiden—who will graduate after this school year.
“It was just really special to have a good time in my sport and not put everything on my performance and worry about that,” she said. “But more just having fun with it, which is really what you should be doing anyway. It was a really special season.”