Passing the one-mile mark on Friday, March 14, at the New Balance Nationals Indoor in New York City, Tessa Barrett was a little concerned. Her goal had been to set a new national high school record in the 5,000 meters, but even so, her time of 5:03.4 seemed a touch fast.
“I was like, ‘Oh boy, the last two [miles] are definitely going to be uncomfortable,’” Barrett said, according to ArmoryTrack.com.
In fact, they weren’t uncomfortable at all. In her post-race interview, Barrett said that she felt “really comfortable” all the way through, and it showed in her performance. The 18-year-old senior from Pennsylvania broke the tape in 16:11.85, setting a new national high school record and beating Wesley Frazier’s previous mark—16:18.01, set at least year’s New Balance Nationals—by more than seven seconds.
In the early going, the crowd at the New Balance Track & Field Center might have anticipated a duel between Barrett and Iowa sophomore Stephanie Jenks, who kept pace with the eventual winner through the first mile.
But Jenks fell back in mile two, and Barrett kept pushing, letting up only slightly. She hit the two-mile mark in 10:15—faster than she’s ever run for that distance—and by the final lap, she’d shaken off all of her competitors.
Barrett’s performance made this the fourth straight year in which the girls’ national high school 5000-meter record has been broken at the New Balance Nationals. After the race, Barrett happily followed event tradition and posed for photos in front of a giant digital clock displaying her time.
"I can't even, like, explain it,” she said, according to ArmoryTrack.com. “I was hoping to get my second national championship, but to break a record is really unreal. It's just unreal.”