CHATAN, Okinawa – Jessica Ircink’s face took on a look of wide-eyed surprise. She had just completed the 1,600-meter run during Saturday’s Okinawa Activities Council weekly quadrangular at Chatan Stadium, but had no idea she’d run the event as quickly as she did.

“Wow. My gosh,” she said after learning she’d clocked 5 minutes, 29.87 seconds, nearly six seconds better than her personal best … and about 5½ seconds short of the Pacific record of 5:24.28 set in 2010.

“No, I did not see that coming,” said Ircink, a Kubasaki sophomore who last spring played soccer for the Far East Division I Tournament champion Dragons. Of the record, set by Seoul American’s Siarria Ingram, she said: “Now, I have my goal.”

Her day began by running a 2:29 split in helping Kubasaki capture the 3,200-meter relay en route to tying Kadena’s girls 112-112 for top team honors. She later finished second to teammate Allie Reichenberg in the 800.

“I miss soccer,” Ircink said of the switch in sports. “But I like this better. I just love sports.” Ircink wasn’t alone feeling the need for speed and in pursuit of records. Fellow Dragons sophomore Erik Armes came within less than two seconds of running a sub-10-minute 3,200, clocking a 10:01.86. Later, he blazed to a 4:31.93 1,600, coming within four seconds of the 4:28.3 run by Kyle Carrick of Christian Academy Japan in 2000.

And Armes did all that with a right foot dressed in Moleskin, to help protect his toes from blisters that have formed over the season. “Last week, I had blood all over the inside of my shoe,” he said, doffing the shoe and displaying a tell-tale red mark on the right side. Of chasing the 10-minute mark, he said: “Hopefully, I’ll get it next week” at the 10th Alva W. “Mike” Petty Memorial Meet at Kubasaki. Armes is about a half-minute of the Pacific mark of 9:31 set in 1974 by Roger Olson of CAJ.

“Those are some big-time runners” Ircink and Armes are chasing, Kubasaki coach Jon Fick said.

Saturday’s meet, the third of the season, was run under sunny skies with 70-degree temperatures and cooling northeasterly winds.

Much chillier and far more wet was the setting at Yokota, where the third DODDS meet of the season was held, but some runners, such as distance specialist Daniel Galvin, seemed impervious to the conditions.

Galvin, a Yokota freshman, handed Nile C. Kinnick’s Robert Beard a rare defeat, outrunning the star senior 4:37.47 to 4:40.3 in the 1,600. For the third straight meet, Kinnick dominated the team scoring.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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