Christina Aragon of Billings, Mont. started her stand-out season with a win at the Stanford Invitational. (Kirby Lee, Image of Sport)
Matthew Maton from Summit, Ore. became the sixth prep in history to break four minutes in the mile two weeks ago. Pundits nationwide expect Grand Blanc, Mich. senior Grant Fisher to do the same before season's end.
The mystique of the sub-four minute mile is always a popular topic of conversation for the nation's top high school boys. But it's not just boys setting records in the classic distance this year.
There's a girl out in Billings, Mont., who has already run her way into history.
High school junior Christina Aragon ran 4:16.36 for 1500m at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, placing fourth in a field of professional and collegiate runners. The mark catapulted her to U.S. No. 5 on the All-Time List, putting Aragon as a favorite for the adidas Dream Mile and at the epicenter of a resurgence in girls middle-distance running.*
High School Girls 1500m All-Time List
|2013||4:04.62||Mary Cain||Bronxville, NY|
|2014||4:07.05||Alexa Efraimson||Camas, WA|
|2014||4:10.95||Elise Cranny||Niwot, CO|
|2008||4:14.50||Jordan Hasay||Mission Prep, CA|
|2015||4:16.36||Christina Aragon||Billings, MT|
|2008||4:16.42||Christina Babcock||Woodbridge, CA|
|1982||4:16.6||Kim Gallagher||Upper Dublin, PA|
|1969||4:16.8||Francie Larrieu||Fremont, CA|
|2011||4:17.12||Cami Chapus||Harvard-Westlake, CA|
A 4:16 for 1500m equates to about 4:35.2 for 1600m and 4:36.79 for the full mile distance. Those times would also rank U.S. No. 5 on the All-Time List.
As Aragon tells it, the 4:16 came out of nowhere.
"I was actually hoping to run a 4:25," she said. "Before the race, the girls were saying that they wanted the rabbit to go 67-68 and I was pretty nervous about that, because that was a little fast for what I was trying to run... It was kind of hard to tell, exactly, because there's not really a mark at the 300, so I wasn't exactly sure what I was going through in."
But Billings distance coach Don Blankenship says he was "not surprised at all."
"I told her before she left, she was capable of running [that]," he said. "The way she carries herself is very good, she is one of the smoothest runners I've darn near ever seen."
This all from a girl who does not consider track her main sport. If there were more opportunities in gymnastics, the track and field world may never have watched her lace up a pair of spikes.
But how long can you outrun a family legacy?
* - Editor's Note: The top 10 prep performances ever recorded in the 1500m came from just three girls - Mary Cain, Alexa Efraimson and Elise Cranny - all in the past three years. Both Cain of Bronxville, New York and Efraimson of Camas, Wash. turned professional before graduating from high school. Cranny is a freshman at Stanford. The table represents the top 10 high school performances by 10 different athletes. A table of the top 10 overall marks would include Mary Cain 8 times (including the top two marks), Alexa Efraimson once at No. 3 and Elise Cranny once at No. 8.