The 2019 cross country season has already played witness to its fair share of remarkable performances, from Nico Young's incredible, national all-time best 5K at Woodbridge, to Leo Daschbach's last-ditch kick over Cole Sprout at the Desert Twilight Festival, to Brynn Brown's driven effort at the Texas MileSplit Invitational.
But Margot Appleton's race at the Mayor's Cup in Boston on Sunday may have taken the cake as the most shocking performance of the season thus far--at least on the surface.
The Portsmouth Abbey (RI) School junior, racing for the USATF New England club Emerging Elites in her first major contest of the 2019 season--and possibly career--finished the renowned 5K second overall in 17:14, ahead of returning Foot Locker Nationals Champion Sydney Masciarelli. She earned a 151 speed rating for the performance.
Surprising, yes, but maybe this didn't come out of nowhere, either.
Appleton's performances, much like Masciarelli, have largely gone under the radar over the past year-plus. A year ago, she won her Eastern Independent League Championship in 18:34 as a sophomore and scored another title at the Division 3 New England Championships.
Still, according to our records, she has yet to break 5-minutes for 1,600 meters.
In a race that typically features women and professional runners, high school athletes are rarely thrust into the top ranks at the Mayor's Cup unless they're of a certain skill and ability.
Appleton reportedly raced alongside Masciarelli "the whole time," according to Marianapolis Preparatory coach Emily Gaudet -- who also remarked her runner had been sick "the past 10 days" -- and never lost her mark.
That finish represented a more than one-minute improvement from her previous best ...in poor conditions.
Before Masciarelli's fourth-place finish in 2018, just two-high school athletes had finished inside the top 10 in the event's women's championship since 2010.
Sunday added to that history.
Through a consistent rain and dampened conditions, Appleton held on late to score the biggest accomplishment of her high school career. Masciarelli, the 16-year-old who many believe could repeat as as Foot Locker Nationals champion, was fourth again in 17:16.
This was the site last year for an early breakout race for Masciarelli, who raced nearly anonymously throughout a private school system in Connecticut and Massachusetts before taking top honors at Foot Locker.
This no doubt will be Appleton's big breakout moment. Previously, the 17-year-old had little to her career resume, other than the 21st place finish at last year's Foot Locker Northeast Regional.