Elizabeth Leachman Sought Perfection, And Grabbed It Over 5K

* Elizabeth Leachman was perfect on Saturday and took down a high school national record at 5,000 meters

Photo Credit: Derrick Dingle/MileSplit

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by Cory Mull - MileSplit

NEW YORK CITY -- The record race began, coincidentally enough, with little fanfare. 

As Elizabeth Leachman started ripping off laps in the girls 5,000 meters at Nike Indoor Nationals on Saturday inside the Armory, few even realized it. 

The Boerne Champion sophomore clocked a 35 and then a 36 and then a 38 and then on and on it went on the 200 meter banked short track, her floating through the 1,600m marker at an insane 4:59.63 clip. 

But then, as wind caught up and Leachman scurried on, the buzz grew and grew until we were at the final 400 meters and Leachman only needed a 75 to secure the fastest time in high school history. 

She followed with a cool 66, shattering the former national high school record by nine seconds in a winning time of 15:28.89.

The performance surpassed Katelyn Tuohy's former mark of 15:37.12 from 2018, and it also gave Leachman a new sophomore class record. What's crazier, though, was that she was doubling back from a 2-mile win on Friday, in which she set a new meet record in 9:44.15 and closed over the final 400 meters and some change in 68 seconds.

Leachman's top 5K from the cross country season was 16:07.60.

Exhausted for only a moment it seemed, Leachman flashed a national record smile.

"It was exciting," she said. "The plan was just to go out and see how I felt after that first mile and adjust from there not knowing how to pace this race."

While there were no pacers in this race, William Floyd's Zariel Macchia went out with Leachman in an almost identical clip over the first eight laps, running nearly side-by-side with her over the first 4:59. 

"When she was running on my side, it was like having a teammate," Leachman said. "When I switched that mentally, it really helped." 

The hardest part of any record attempt is staying on pace, and for Leachman, she followed her first 1,600m split by following in 5:12, pushing through the first 3,200 meters in 10:12.89. 

In theory, she knew, the Texan only needed a 5:25 to close over the final 1,800 meters. 

The hardest part? 

"That last 1,200, I really started to feel that indoor ...it's not the same as breathing outside," she said. 

With 200 meters left, Leachman closed in 32 seconds.

"Oh I did?" she said. ''I didn't know that." 

"That last 600, it was starting to hurt quite a bit. But just having that support and feeling like, I'm almost there. It really helped." 

Photo Credit: Derrick Dingle/MileSplit

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