Mary Cain spent Saturday morning taking the SAT.
She spent Saturday afternoon—or just under four minutes and 33 seconds of it, anyway—demolishing two of the oldest high school track records in the books.
Cain, the 16-year-old phenom from Bronxville, NY, who trains under Alberto Salazar, ran 4:32.78 for the mile at the New Balance Games, easily breaking the 41-year-old high school indoor mile record of 4:38.5 set by Debbie Heald in 1972.
En route, she hit the 1500-meter mark in 4:16.11, breaking the indoor high school and American junior record of 4:18.9 set by Lynn Jennings in 1978. Cain also ran faster than Polly Plumer’s outdoor high school mile record of 4:35.24, set in 1982.
Before last Saturday, Cain already owned the high school outdoor 1500-meter mark, which she set in finishing sixth last year at the IAAF World Junior Championships, and had run the fastest 3000 meters ever by a U.S. high school girl, 9:02.1 earlier this indoor season.
“I had to wake up early this morning for the SAT,” an exuberant Cain told Milesplit.com in a video interview after Saturday’s race at the New Balance Track & Field Center at the Armory. “That’s what [we] juniors have to do. And then I kind of tried to stay calm through that and then through leading up to the race.”
In the race, Cain was last with three laps remaining in a race against professional and post-collegiate athletes, but launched her well-known kick on the last lap to finish third, just 1.17 seconds behind the winner. Sarah Brown (formerly Sarah Bowman), the 2009 NCAA indoor mile champion, broke the tape in 4:31.61.
Cain will return to the Armory track on February 16 to compete in the NYRR Wanamaker Mile, but first she'll run the two-mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on Saturday. There, she will line up against, among others, three-time Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia.
Asked by Milesplit how it felt to compete against pro athletes, Cain said: “It’s definitely inspirational and, honestly, it takes a bit of the pressure off. Next week I run against Dibaba and I’m just like, have a good race, have fun with it, learn from it, see what she does, what the other runners do.”
Her goal in Boston, she added, is “just to run fast.”
Photo Credit: PhotoRun