The previous national indoor record for the girls’ high school mile last for 41 years.
The most recent one lasted for three weeks.
Tonight at the 106th Millrose Games, Mary Cain returned to the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory and took up right where she left off, finishing second in the women’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile in 4:28.25 to break her own mark of 4:32.78, set here on January 26 at the New Balance Games. Cain hit the 1500-meter mark in 4:11.72, breaking her recent high school and U.S. youth marks for that distance as well.
The race was won in 4:27.02 by Canada’s Sheila Reid, 23, who was a four-time NCAA Champion while at Villanova coached by Marcus O’Sullivan, a six-time winner of the Wanamaker Mile. Reid and the 16-year-old Cain embraced after the race, then took a victory lap together.
“I got the victory and she got a relatively bigger victory than I did,” said Reid, whose time was a Canadian national record. “She is a phenomenal athlete. It was a great race for her.”
In the men’s NYRR Wanamaker Mile, two-time Olympian Lopez Lomong took the lead from defending champion Matthew Centrowitz at the bell and held off the 2011 World Championships bronze medalist for the victory, 3:51.21 to 3:51.34. His time makes him the second-fastest U.S. indoor miler in history, behind only Bernard Lagat.
"I never ran here before,” said Lomong, referring to Millrose. “When I was in high school, I wasn't good enough. It was a blessing to come here and run this time."
After arriving in the United States in 2001 as one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” Lomong setted with a family in Tully, NY, near Syracuse. He said last night that he was especially pleased to run with them cheering him on from the stands.
Both Lomong and Centrowitz crossed the finish line under Lagat’s meet record of 3:52.87, set in 2005 on the slower, shorter track of Madison Square Garden. Ireland’s Ciaran O’Lionard’s third-place time of 3:52.10 also was under the previous mark, while Chris O’Hare of the University of Tulsa, in fourth, broke the collegiate record with his time of 3:52.98.
"It was wonderful to run with all these big dogs,” said O’Hare, who didn’t let his starry eyes keep him from making a huge move with 300 meters to break the race open. “I really felt like a high school kid. I felt like asking for autographs."
Rivaling hometown heroine Cain for the loudest cheers of the night from the sold-out Armory stands was an athlete well over twice her age but ageless nonetheless: 38-year-old Bernard Lagat, who hit every split in the race slower than his coach, James Li, had dictated but still succeeded in his goal of reclaiming his two-mile American Record when he crossed the line in 8:09.49. Last year, Galen Rupp had run 8:09.72 to take the record away from Lagat.
“I was more concerned about getting the time than in winning, because when it comes down to the last two laps, 400 meters, I was going to hold off anybody,” said Lagat, who gapped Evan Jager, the U.S. 3000-meter steeplechase record-holder, with about that much to go. Andrew Bumbalough would finish second, in 8:13.02, followed by Canada’s Cam Levins in 8:14.65 and then Jager in 8:14.95
“Tonight was a special night,” said Lagat, assisted in his post-race interview by his 7-year-old son, Miika. “The fans were amazing. … When we are doing our training back in November, there is one important race, and that is the Armory.”
Lagat, competing in his 12th now holds five U.S. indoor records: at 1500 meters, the mile, 3000 meters, two miles, and 5000 meters.
Behind Lagat, finishing eighth, was another local high school favorite. Edward Cheserek, who runs for St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey, threw his arms in the air as he crossed the line in 8:39.15, to break Gerry Lindgren’s 1964 mark of 8:40.0.
Also setting marks, in the rarely-run men’s and women’s 600 meters, were Alysia Montano and Erik Sowinski, with times of 1:23.59 and 1:15.61, respectively.
Despite Lagat being named Performer of the Meet, it was a night largely owned by Cain, 22 years his junior. After going to the front early in her race, Cain wisely fell back, as far as eighth at one point, before working her way back up to second behind Reid, her own newly minted record in her sights.
“I felt really great crossing that line and seeing that time, and though ‘woo!’” she said afterward. “There you go!”
Her coach, three time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, was watching the ESPN3 broadcast from his home in Portland, OR.
"I was yelling so much my dogs got scared,” he said in a telephone interview. “I had to run them into the laundry room. I don't think they've ever heard me scream so loud."
Winning the NYRR Youth Girls’ 4x200-meter dash was the Harlem Children’s Zone, in a meet record 1:48.41; the NYRR Boys’ 4x200-meter dash was won by the Bronx Tigers in 1:53.56. In the NYRR Girls’ Fastest Kid on the Block, Adaria Reaves of the Zodiacs took the win in 8.52, with the NYRR Boys’ Fastest Kid on the Block title going to Davin Denny of the Flames in 8.48.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg