Only a national record could keep East Islip's Katharine Newhoff from a national title. The senior race walker finished second in the mile competition in seven minutes, 8.02 seconds yesterday on the second day of the three-day-long New Balance Nationals at The Armory in Manhattan.
The only combatant that Newhoff could not beat, Ashleigh Resch of Beavercreek, Ohio, set at national record, walking in at 7:00.33. The previous mark was 7:00.94, set by Katy Hayes of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin in 2004, according to official results.
Newhoff's time was a gigantic personal best, she said. She last walked the mile at last year's New Balance Nationals, finishing fourth in 7:31.10.
Even though the race was, by pure mathematical principal, the fastest of all time, Newhoff said it didn't feel any quicker than an average race.
"I didn't even know," she said of the record pace. "I was completely zoning out. Because of my conditioning, it didn't feel like much."
Newhoff's 'zoning out' is a result, she said, of her extreme concentration on the task at hand.
"I think it's because my mindset is completely focused on the race," she said. "My dad will ask me if I heard him cheering and I'll say no. I'm so focused on what I'm supposed to be doing."
Early in the race, Newhoff needed to focus on putting herself in position to finish high. As the 15th seed, she started on the outside. This made her first move one of strategic placing. "First, I had to get out and go around them," she said. "After I got back into the pack, they got into a consistent pace."
Once that happened Newhoff was able to stay near the front and remain in second after Resch broke off toward her record setting day.
"I went out a little too early, but second place is good enough for me," Newhoff said.
The race marked the second consecutive week that Newhoff earned a silver medal. She walked a 6:52.72 in the 1,500 meter walk at the New York State Championships last weekend at Cornell University, 3.05 seconds behind Colonie's Meaghan Podlaski. The two battled it out again Saturday, this time with Newhoff holding off the New York State Champ by 0.90 seconds in the final indoor race of her high school career.
"It feels really good to finish on a high," Newhoff said.
Sachem East's Lauren Harris finished fourth in 7:17.81, good for All-American status.
Kellenberg's 1,600 meter sprint medley relay team, composed of Gabby Schreib, Bridget McNierney, Keryann Ladouceur and Jazmine Fray, also made All-American, finishing sixth in 4:04.73. Monroe County's Rush-Henrietta won in 3:52.68, a national record time.
On the boys side, St. Anthony's 4x1-mile team, composed of Joe and Pat Tucker, Michael O'Leary, and Ryan Dearie finished third in 17:39.34, good for All-American status. Rhode Island's La Salle Academy won in 17:11.07.
While the event is not run often, St. Anthony's strong cross country background made it a perfect fit. "We definitely had the distance in our legs," O'Leary said.
Syosset's 4x800 meter relay team, composed of Alex Hoelzli, Evan Garry, Tyler Italiano, and Billy Anderson were also All-American, finishing fifth in 7:46.34.