Greensboro, USA - Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, solidified her mark in U.S. high school track and field history at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, running a national high school best of 9:54.22 in the two mile. Cuffe's was just one of three national bests to fall over the three-day (16-18) competition, which brings together many of the best high school athletes from the United States, some of whom are expected to compete at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Lille, France, 6-10 July.
Cuffe, who has won national titles in Cross Country and indoor track, wanted to end her career at Cornwall Central High School in style by breaking Molly Huddle's nine-year-old mark, which stood at 10:01.08. Huddle is the current U.S. record holder over 5000m.
Cuffe would take the race out hard from the gun, immediately setting the tone that she wanted the record. But at 800 metres, the field had strung out to single file and had a surprise leader: Kayla Beattie. Passing the mile in 4:58.8, Cuffe was a few steps back, inching closer and closer to the leader.
Coming down the homestretch minutes later, fans began a slow clap, which instantly churned the fire even more for Cuffe.
"I knew I had to go then, even though I was sacrificing my leg speed," Cuffe said post-race. She began to break away from Beattie soon after, and crossed the finish in 9:54.22.
"It's my last individual high school race, and I guess I am happy it ended that way," said the Stanford University-bound senior, who represented the USA at the IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships this past March. "It hasn't really sunken in yet."
Two national relay bests
Harvard-Westlake of California had quite the double, taking home tittles in the Distance Medley Relay and 1600m Sprint Medley Relay. But the distance Medley was their strongest accolade, for the squad made up of Amy Weissenbach, K.C. Cord, Lauren Hansson, and Cami Chapus lowered the previous national best by nearly ten seconds. Their time of 11:22.23 was bolstered by the bookends of the relay - Weissnebach's 3:24.85 opening 1200m leg and Chapus's 4:45.23 final one helped solidify a victory over hard charging Fayetteville-Manlius (Stotan Track Club), who also dipped under the previous national best.
"I just knew if it came down to the last 600m, 400m, or 200m, that I could kick, and that I knew I really wanted this for my team," said a hoarse Chapus, struggling to keep her lost voice audible. All four of the team members were battling illness throughout the weekend.
The final mark to fall came from Long Beach Poly, also of California.
Long Beach Poly Track Club finished just under the national best of 7:30.67 in the 4x800m Relay, running 7:28.75. Christopher Hall, Myles Andrews, Aaron Harris, and Christian Penn combined to run the fastest time ever in U.S. high school history. Andrews used his momentum around the final turn to take over the lead, passing No Speed Limit Track Club in the process. Both teams wound up under Albemarle, Virginia's previous mark. Still out of breath, the team posed in front of the finish clock with their time proudly displayed.
"We just came out with one mindset - to get the record," said the anchor Andrews, who split an incredible 1:47.71.
Chris Lotsbom (organisers) for the IAAF