Whittaker Defends Memorable Girls Mile at Brooks PR Invitational
First high school girls Mile race ever with seven running sub-4:40
By Mary Albl of DyeStat
Julia Flynn called it.
“I knew it. I knew today was going to be a crazy race,” said Flynn, a recent graduate of Traverse City Central High in Michigan.
That it was. On a cloudy Wednesday afternoon at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium in Seattle, Flynn was part of the fastest Brooks PR Invitational girls Mile in meet and high school history.
Defending champion Juliette Whittaker of Mount De Sales Academy in Maryland led the charge with a final surge down the straightaway to win in 4 minutes, 36.23 seconds (#4 all-time HS-only), lowering her own meet record of 4:38.65 from last year.
Six girls quickly followed, all crossing the finish line under 4:40 to make it the deepest girls Mile race in U.S. prep history. The boys Mile also didn’t disappoint to cap the meet by having junior Simeon Birnbaum of Rapid City Stevens High in South Dakota eclipse the 4-minute barrier and five athletes run sub-4:02 for the first time in a single high school race.
“I predicted Juliette was going to win, but I was like, ‘You know what? Regardless of the winner, we’re all going to get really big PRs,’” Flynn said. “That’s why it’s Brooks PR, it lives up to the name.”
With the girls and boys Mile races scheduled annually as the last races of the meet, fans at Husky Stadium lined the outskirts of the purple track down the straightaway, creating an intimate and electric environment for the 12 female runners all capable of winning the event.
“I knew it was going to be a fast race and I knew it was going to be competitive,” Whittaker said. “Just the fact that we came around with a lap to go and all of us were still in the race, was insane, it was really just a kick to the finish.”
With a slight separation from the pack, Whittaker and freshman phenom Sadie Engelhardt of Ventura High in California – who set an age 15 Mile world record April 9 by running 4:35.16 at the Arcadia Invitational – came sprinting down the last 100 meters.
Similar to how the New Balance Indoor National Mile championship race played out March 13 between the two athletes, Whittaker had a little more left in her to pull ahead of Engelhardt for the victory. Whittaker prevailed by a 4:37.23 to 4:37.40 margin at The Armory in New York.
Engelhardt finished runner-up Wednesday in 4:36.50, while Flynn ran 4:37.73 to set a Michigan state record by eclipsing the 2013 standard of 4:40.48 produced by Hannah Meier of Grosse Pointe South.
Riley Stewart of Cherry Creek High was fourth in 4:38.21, lowering her own Colorado state record of 4:40.66 from last year, when she placed second behind Whittaker.
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U.S. high school girls Mile top 10 HERE.
Complete race video HERE.