Bronxville (N.Y.) High junior Mary Cain, who now competes unattached from her school, already set one national scholastic record in January, only to see it taken away on a bizarre technicality. When she had another chance to top an existing high school record, she didn’t waste it, even though it came with two major challenges: 1) She was racing against professionals, and 2) She had already had quite a stressful day, taking the SATs just hours before.
More stress, no problem for Cain, who calmly finished third in the professional indoor mile at the New Balance Games in the historic Armory in New York City’s Washington Heights. As reported by USA Today, she shattered both the existing prep indoor and outdoor mile record (times are typically faster outside than inside) and the scholastic indoor 1,500 meter record in the process.
Officially, Cain finished the mile with a time of 4:32.78. That was nearly six seconds faster than the previous indoor record, a time of 4:38.5 dating to 1972, and 2.5 seconds faster than the outdoor mile record of 4:35.24. Her 1,500 meter time of 4:16.11 was also two seconds faster than the existing 4:18.9 junior girls mark.
“I’m definitely excited,” Cain told USA Today. “For me, I don’t really think of the records beforehand. I don’t want it to psyche me out. I don’t want to freak out with it. So I just stay calm throughout the whole experience. So then when you cross the line, you go, ‘Oh, it’s a record.’ That’s the cherry on top for me.”
Cain continues to stun onlookers with her blazing times, not to mention her potential to get even faster. The junior has been training under the guidance of legendary distance runner Alberto Salazar, who coaches her from his home in Oregon. Because of the distance between teacher and pupil, Salazar is aided in New York by former New Zealand 10,000 meter Olympian John Henwood, who made it clear just how impressive Cain could be in the months and years ahead.
“She’s phenomenal,” Henwood said. “Alberto and I, I think she has pretty much lived right up to what we kind of expected. …
“She’s 16; she’s getting faster,” Henwood said. “She’s got a fantastic (coach). Alberto is currently the biggest coach in the world. I think anything can happen right now.”
Now, if her SATs turn out as well as her races, Cain really will be over the moon. And no one can nullify either her races or her test scores this time.