Mary Cain is 800 meters from realizing her dreams.
The Bronxville sophomore is in Eugene, Ore., this week for the Olympic Trials, competing in the 800-meter run, an event she once held the nation’s best time in this season.
Cain needs to finish in the top 16 of 32 in the event Friday to advance to Saturday's semifinals. The top eight semifinalists will compete in the final Monday, with the fastest three earning a spot in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The 16-year-old phenom must run faster than the Olympic standard of 2 minutes, 1.3 seconds. Her qualifying time was 2:03.34. Twelve of the competitors in the field qualified with a time better than 2:01.3, including favorite Alysia Montano and Alice Schmidt, a 2008 Olympian in the event.
Although a long shot, Cain has continued to improve her times over the past month and establish herself as one of the nation’s top high school runners.
Cain won the 1,500-meter run at the USA Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Sunday, which earned her a trip to the World Junior Championships in Barcelona in July. At the USA Juniors, she ran 4:14.74, the second-fastest time ever by a high school girl in the United States.
In May, Cain set a meet record and the nation’s best time this spring in the mile at the prestigious Penn Relays. She is a two-time state and Federation champion in the 1,500.