2013 is becoming the year of the female high school running phenom. Sixteen-year-old Alana Hadley has run 1:16 for a half-marathon, but even that pales beside the accomplishments of Mary Cain, a junior at Bronxville (NY) High School. On Friday, May 17, at the USATF Oxy High Performance competition in Los Angeles, the 17-year-old solidified her place as the fastest-ever high school “metric miler,” shattering her own record in the 1500 meters with a time of 4 minutes, 4.62 seconds (4:04:62).
That speedy finish—which earned her second place in the race, a mere two-hundredths of a second behind winner Katie Mackey, a 25-year-old seven-time NCAA All-American—was more than six seconds faster than Cain’s previous personal best, 4:10:77, Runner’s World reports. It also earned her an “A” qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships, which will take place in Moscow in August.
Speaking with Flotrack, Cain’s coach, the former New York City and Boston Marathon champion Alberto Salazar, said that Cain is capable of running 1500 meters in 4:02, and if that’s true, she’ll have a serious shot at making the U.S. Championships squad. Her next major test will come on June 1 at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, where she’ll line up against another field of veteran athletes.
“She’s got a lot of talent, and my job is to make sure that that talent is fulfilled,” Salazar told Flotrack, explaining that her race times are still exceeding her fastest workouts. “I didn’t make Mary Cain. She was already made. My job is to keep her healthy and allow her to continue to improve.”
Helping Salazar achieve those goals is Cain herself, who’s proving capable of juggling high school with a busy race schedule that takes her around the world.
“I’m an epic nerd,” Cain told Runner’s World. “My life is running and schoolwork and sleeping. And eating.”