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Ali Ince reaches half-mile milestone in Arcadia

Ali+Ince+lead+the+field+during+the+first+lap+of+the+800+meter+race+at+the+Arcadia+Invite+with+a+split+of+1%3A00.396.+%0AMacKenzie+Browne+ultimately+would+edge+Ince+out+for+first-place+at+the+elite+high+school+meet.+
Screen Capture: Arcadiainvitational.org
Ali Ince lead the field during the first lap of the 800 meter race at the Arcadia Invite with a split of 1:00.396. MacKenzie Browne ultimately would edge Ince out for first-place at the elite high school meet.

Ali Ince bested her personal record in the 800 meter at the Arcadia Invite on Apr. 8, shaving .81 seconds off of her previous PR. 

The meet is one of the nation’s most competitive high school track and field competitions, hosting elite athletes from across the country. 

Over the last 56 years, Arcadia High School has played host to 203 future U.S. Olympians. 

This year, high school track athletes from a record 36 states traveled to Arcadia, California to compete against the best of the best.

Ince entered the 800 as the event’s reigning champion, having broken the Arcadia meet record as a sophomore in 2022 with a time of 2:05.42.

Ince would finish second this season, crossing the finish line at 2:03.17—just one-tenth of a second behind Mackenzie Browne, a senior from Riverside, California. 

Still, Ince’s second-place finish is a victory for the junior. 

This year’s race marked the first time since Ince’s freshman season that she posted a sub-2:04 time in the half-mile—putting her .67 seconds from the Olympic Trials qualifying time. 

A more consistent practice schedule during the basketball season, Ince said—one designed to help her “get better…instead of just stay fit”—enabled the milestone.   

Training each morning, getting up before school to put in extra reps, made a difference. 

But days of discipline—from morning track workouts to after-school basketball practice—were not the only contributors to Ince’s PR-shattering success. 

This year’s strategy, Community track and field coach Mr. Kendall Keller said, has been marked by more “consistent communication” between Ince, her coaches and trainers. 

“Our philosophies mesh well,” Keller said. “We understand, overall, what Ali needs…and we’re always trying to push her in different ways.”

For Ince, there’s no stronger push than a stacked, out-of-state meet like Arcadia—where her competitors are also nationally ranked and hungry for better races. 

“I know going into it that they’re going to hold me accountable,” Ince said, “and everyone wants to run a fast time. Odds are, it’s going to be a good race because there are so many good girls.”

For last year’s race, ‘good’ is an understatement. 

While the 2022 Arcadia Invite was one of Ince’s first outdoor meets beyond the Illinois border, she claimed a nearly five-second victory over Mackenzie Browne. 

But this season, Browne shaved over seven seconds off last season’s 2:10.17 to run a winning 2:03.07 at Arcadia. 

At the elite level, runners fight to drop tenths of a second—not seven full seconds. In a class where female runners typically see plateauing times, Browne’s senior-year improvement was a “crazy way” to end her high school Arcadia career, Ince said. 

After the race’s top three finishers all broke the previous Girls 800 record—Ince’s 2:05.42 from last year—the athletes were “shocked” and “really happy” for each other, Ince said.  

Among athletes at Ince’s level, Keller said, this encouraging attitude can be difficult to find. 

Ince willingness to lose with “a smile on her face,” Keller said, Ince’s passion for running above all else, has contributed to her national success as much as her natural ability or training. 

“[Ince] has a love for the sport,” Keller said. “It’s different for her…the thing that makes her very popular is people see[ing] a young lady who is very talented, very fast, but very composed.”

On a freshman-dense track team full of “extremely nervous” athletes, Keller said, Ince’s composure will be essential heading into May’s IHSA State series. 

Ince hopes to return to Eastern Illinois University in May to beat her 2022 State-winning 800 time, 2:10.02. As a freshman, Ince fell one one-hundredth of a second short of IHSA’s decade-old record: 2:07.05.

But no matter what times Ince posts, Keller said, her easy-going nature—one that is “very difficult to find among super competitive athletes”—continues to be an asset for the team. 

“She’s a boost to anybody’s facility,” Keller said, “because she’s going to be a leader no matter what.”

 

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About the Contributor
Abby Ruebush, Editor-in-Chief
Abby Ruebush is a senior at Normal Community High School and serves as president of Student Council and the Community Best Buddies chapter. This is her third year working with the Inkspot, where she is Editor-in-Chief.  I like dance, ice cream and thoughtful conversation. A slogan to live by is that every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.
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