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Mary Cain finishes second in women's mile, first in junior records

Bronxville track phenom Mary Cain's many records include

Bronxville track phenom Mary Cain's many records include the national high school mark for the fastest mile. Credit: Patrick Tewey

In Saturday night's 106th Millrose Games, that ongoing experiment in breaking the human sound barrier, 16-year-old Mary Cain again seemed to push right out of the envelope of normal physical limits.

Cain, a junior at Westchester's Bronxville High, finished second in the women's mile to 23-year-old Canadian Sheila Reid, a four-time NCAA champion in track and cross country for Villanova. Reid ran a strong, grown-up 4 minutes, 27.02 seconds.

But it was Cain's latest in her string of Frankenstein-voltage monster times that was the more shocking. Cain turned in a hot 4:28.79, obliterating her own 3-week-old national high school record -- which itself had broken a 40-year-old mark. The time also represented a national junior record -- for runners under 20 -- and along the way, she passed the 1,500-meter mark in 4:11.72, also an all-time U.S. high school and junior best.

To set four American records in one race was enough to prompt Reid to invite Cain along on her victory lap around the Armory track, both giggling and slapping hands with fans as they went.

"I got a victory," said Reid, "and she got a relatively bigger victory. It was fun being in the race with her."

The women's field included accomplished collegians Emma Coburn of Colorado, Abbey D'Agostino of Dartmouth and Oregon's Jordan Hasay. But Cain, after slipping back to eighth in the pack midway through the race, powered back through the crowd before Reid's final kick held her off.

"I didn't want to let the race overwhelm me," said Cain, who has showed herself able to run with the sport's most accomplished middle-distance women, streaking across the sport like some benign meteor this winter. When she smashed to smithereens the national high school two-mile mark with a 9:38.68 two weeks ago in Boston, Cain joked that she had been "ahead of an Olympian" -- Ethiopian gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba, the eventual winner that night -- "for, like, two seconds" at the start.

In the midst of battle Saturday night, Cain said: "I heard the other girls breathing and I said, 'As long as you're in it, don't give up.' I told myself, 'I deserve to be here.' "

Hers was the latest evidence of Millrose's heady mix of quantity and quality. More than 400 athletes, from preteens to 30-something pros (including 41 London Olympians, 11 of those medal winners) entertained a full house at the Armory -- most notably eight-time Millrose mile champion Bernard Lagat, who set a national two-mile record of 8:09.49.

Also notable: Olympian Lopez Lomong's late charge to dethrone defending Wanamake Mile champ Matthew Centrowitz, 3:51.21 to 3:51.34.

In the women's 60 meters, NCAA champion English Gardner of Oregon (7.19) edged a pair of 2012 Olympic relay gold medalists, Jeneba Tarmoh and Lauryn Williams, and 35-year-old former TCU sprinter Doc Patton, a relay silver medalist in London last summer, left fellow 2012 Olympians Jeremy Bascom of Guyana and Gerald Phiri of Zambia in his dust in winning the men's 60 (6.50).

Jeff Porter, a London Olympian in the 110 hurdles, won the 60 hurdles in 7.59 and the women's hurdles went to Yvette Lewis, the 2011 Pan American champ out of Hampton University, in 7.84.

Even amid all the talent, Cain -- in her black running outfit and yellow ribbon in her hair -- stood out. She is the daughter of an anesthesiologist whose office is in the neighborhood of the Armory. She is being coached by three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar.

New York Sports