Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon
SportsHigh SchoolTrack

Sachem East’s Lauren Harris sets historic 1-mile walk record at Indoor Nationals

Sachem East's Lauren Harris wins the girls 1-mile

Sachem East's Lauren Harris wins the girls 1-mile walk in a record 6:53.44 on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at the New Balance Indoor Nationals at the Armory in Manhattan. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

When Lauren Harris steps onto the track, there’s an electricity in the air that something special, something possibly historic, could be in the making.

And on days like Saturday, the Sachem East walk star showed exactly why.

Harris claimed her place in history yet again at the New Balance Indoor Nationals at the Armory in Manhattan, breaking the girls 1-mile walk national record in six minutes, 53.44 seconds.

Harris’ feat marked a second consecutive record-setting performance on the national stage. She initially shattered the previous record during the 2016 Indoor Nationals in 6:57.36 — the first sub-7:00 performance in Indoor National history.

“Honestly, I never thought during the race that this was going to happen because when I went out that fast, I thought ‘I need to hang on. I just messed up my race.’

“But during the last straightaway I looked at the clock and realized everything was fine and I got the record.”

Harris almost immediately stormed away from the pack after blazing ahead in the early moments. About two minutes into the race it was evident that she had an opportunity to break her national record.

In that moment, Sachem East coach Dan Schaub reassured Harris by exclaiming two words.

“You’re flying!”

Right into the record books. Again.

“My goal for today was to go under 6:57 and lower my record and make it harder to break,” Harris said. “I’m happy with what happened.”

Harris remained hungry as ever entering her senior year, as she said in a Newsday feature while preparing for the season on Dec. 19. She first showcased her desire for newfound success on Jan. 29 when she added a second national record to her resume with a 6:17.59 performance in the 1,500-meter walk at the Ocean Breeze Invitational in Staten Island.

Sachem East assistant coach and U.S. Olympic walker Maria Michta-Coffey first introduced Harris to the walk in 2013. After breaking two national records, Michta-Coffey emphasized to Harris the amount of effort this third milestone would require.

“I was ecstatic,” Michta-Coffey said. “I knew she had the record and I kept telling her, ‘This is your record to crush as much as you want. How much do you want to destroy it? You’re going to have to fight for it.’ ”

Schaub has also witnessed Harris’ progression going back to her days as a freshman and remains in awe of her supreme talent. “She’s special, a once-in-a-generation athlete.”

Harris will next compete in the Pan-American trials on April 2 in Philadelphia.

Shoreham-Wading River took home national champion honors as well, winning the girls 4 x 1-mile relay championship in 20.33.12 behind Payton Capes-Davis, Amanda Dwyer, Maria Smith and Alexandra Hays, despite being seeded 12th out of 15 teams.

“We had faith even though we were 12th, we’ve worked so hard the last two weeks,” Dwyer said. “I had a good feeling going into it. Unbelievable.”

Commack’s Halle Hazzard finished fifth in 7.44 seconds in the 60-meter preliminaries to qualify for the final on Sunday.

Smithtown East high jumper Daniel Claxton cleared 71⁄4 to take third.

But the story of the day, and the season, was Harris, who infused electricity throughout the venue the moment she stepped onto the track. And then showed exactly why.

More high schools