Preps Enter The Limelight at NYRR Millrose Games
By Doug Binder, ArmoryTrack.com
A high school girl's name will be etched onto the NYRR Women's Wanamaker Mile trophy, albeit rookie professional Mary Cain.
And two other high school girls got a rare taste of elite international level racing on Saturday at the 107th NYRR Millrose Games at The Armory in New York.
Cain, a Bronxville, N.Y. senior and Nike Oregon Project star, moved up a spot from where she finished when she made an enormous splash in this meet last year. After a somewhat slow first half, in which all of the other pros in the race seemed to defer to the teen sensation, Cain tore away and ran a winning time of 4:27.73.
What's scary is that everyone seemed to expect nothing less from the 17-year-old Cain.
Alexa Efraimson, a 16-year-old junior from Camas, Wash., battled gamely through tight quarters and finished with a rush to place sixth in a 12-woman field. Efraimson ran 4:32.15, second-fastest in prep history to Cain, and may have gone even faster if the race leaders had chosen to stick with the rabbit.
Efraimson was making her first appearance at The Armory and running on a banked track for the first time in her career. But she ran with poise and showed that there is yet another U.S. mid-distance prodigy in the making.
"Racing against these professionals, it's such a great opportunity," Efraimson said.
More surprisingly, Olivia Baker of Columbia NJ, found her way into the elite women's 300 meters.
After Baker helped Columbia win the high school 4x200 in a US#1 time, her coach made a last-ditch request to have the senior star entered in the elite 300. The answer was a pretty resounding No.
However, eight minutes into her cool-down, coach Lisa Morgan found Baker and excitedly relayed word that she had been added to the race.
"This was 15 minutes before the race and I was running to the bathroom, changing my shirt, putting on a new number, changing my spikes and getting ready to get back on the track," Baker said.
So it was a somewhat harried Baker who turned up to race an elite field that included Olympians Shaunae Miller (Bahamas) and Francena McCorory (USA). Baker finished fifth in 38.73 seconds. (Miller was within hailing distance of the world record with her winning time of 36.10).
"I thank God for that opportunity," Baker said. "It was just so exciting running with professionals and getting to run a 300."
At the NYRR Millrose Games, where there are easily as many high school events as there are pro events, the stage is big. A two-hour segment was televised live -- and Baker was on TV twice.
Later, she split a 54-second quarter to help Columbia lower its US-leading 4x400 relay to 3:46.42.
On the infield, the highlight of the day came from Texan Desiree Freier, who made 14 feet in the pole vault for the first time and became the fourth prep in history to accomplish that feat indoors. Then she took three cracks at high school-record height 14-2.75.
"It's amazing," Freier said. "I've been jumping 13-6 (and 13-7) and I was ready for the next bar. I thought I had (the record height) but I probably need some more stick on the last one."
Rest assured, Freier will be back for New Balance Nationals Indoor and will have moved onto a bigger pole.
The high school invitational miles also produced impressive results. Luke Gavigan of Tappan Zee, NY sped away from a strong lead group over the final 200 to take the win in US#1 4:08.96 as six guys broke 4:14. It was the fastest winning time since 1977 and second-fastest in the history of the event at Millrose.
Then, in the girls mile, Caroline Alcorta demonstrated her strength by controlling the race from the front and simply running away from talented challenger Kennedy Weisner of Elk County Catholic PA. Alcorta, of West Springfield VA, ran 4:46.06 for a new meet record.
Afterward, in an interview area, Alan Webb extended his congratulations to the fellow Virginian.
"Thank you, Mr. Webb," Alcorta said.