Johnny Mathis Invite Yields Five Wins, Including US Age Group Record for Paaso

Cox Stadium at San Francisco State provided a beautiful backdrop for some early season middle distance racing for the team, during the annual Johnny Mathis Invitational.

Kris Paaso started the proceedings with a gun to wire season opener in the mixed masters mile, running 5:02.23 to best the previous US women's 45-49 age group record by five seconds.  If health and form cooperate, she plans to contest both the indoor USAs and Olympic Trials middle distance masters exhibitions this year.  Read Ken Stone's write-up about her race here.

Following Kris, Annie Beck and Ayla Granados traded leads early, before Beck pulled away for a victory in the 1500m, followed by Granados in second, Courtney Heiner in 5th, and Lauren Schultz in 8th (PR).  The same quartet returned for the 800, where Beck paced Granados to a runaway win, again followed by Heiner and Schultz, notching her second PR of the day. Kate Bettinger enjoyed a competitive debut in the 1500m, earning 7th place in Heat 3.

On the men's side, Justin Marpole-Bird led the charge to the line in a tactical men's 1500m, his first race over that distance since 2014.  Benedikt Bünz earned 3rd after briefly taking the lead with 650 to go, and Jesus Romo was 6th.  All three came back in the 800 as Marpole-Bird paced runaway winner Marco Bertolotti to a solid opening time of 1:52, with Bünz across next and Romo in 6th once more.