High school runners grow up fast when competing at New Balance Indoor Grand Prix
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The New Balance Indoor Grand Prix Meet took place last Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury. The event took place from 3:45 to 7 p.m., in which time there were sprinting and distance races, as well as pole vault and shot put.
Pro runners and Olympians alike participated in the meet, alongside high school runners who may claim those titles someday themselves. For example, Natick High senior Grace Connolly, who ran in the Girls’ Junior Mile and placed fourth with a time of 4 minutes 51.78 seconds. Other than losing one shoe during the last lap of her race, she seemed satisfied with her performance.
As for the rest of the indoor season, Grace is looking forward to the state meet and the conference championships. Some of her goals are to get into the 4:40s for the mile and 2:50s for the 1,000 as well as the low 10:00s for the 2 mile, once outdoor season begins.
Running has lead her to commit to Stanford University, as well as to meet some of the pros at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix.
“I did get to meet Emma [Coburn], Jenny [Simpson], and Cory McGee,” Grace said.
Another high school miler, Arlington High senior Ryan Oosting placed fourth in the Boys’ Junior Mile with a time of 4:13.32. He said he focused on staying with the front of the pack to keep his pace.
For the longest race of the day, the 5,000 meters, pro runner Jenny Simpson placed second with a time of 15:33.38. After leading for the majority of the 23-lap race, she was surpassed at the very end by Konstanze Klosterhalfen of Germany.
Jenny was not discouraged though, and she is still looking forward to the rest of her season. as well as outdoors. When asked what she knows about Klosterhalfen and other competitors, she said she knew only as much as the fans and spectators, which is their times and performances on paper.
Although there were runners from across the globe, there were plenty of runners — high school and professional — from New England. Gabby Thomas, a senior at Harvard University, ran her first pro race (the 300). She was clear she didn’t quite reach her goal for the meet (she placed second with a time of 37.3 seconds) but said she enjoyed her race.
To finish out the indoor season, Gabby hopes to hit mid 36 in the 300. For the outdoor season, she said she wants to work on the 400 and the 200, the latter being her favorite race because of the speed. She is a strategic runner and focuses on being aggressive and fast in the first 80 meters of the 200 to push her in front of other competitors.
When Gabby was in high school, she played soccer, basketball, and track. She didn’t even realize her potential in track until the end of her junior year when she started being recruited by colleges. She got offers from many top-tier schools, including Stanford, Duke, and Brown, but chose Harvard over all the others.
“I had no intentions of going pro, or even running in college until I was asked,” Gabby said during a phone interview two days before the meet.
Now that she runs professionally for New Balance, she can no longer run with the Harvard team, but she still stays involved in the community by being a student coach. She says the best part of college running is the community that supported her on the track and in school, where she majors in neurobiology and global health.
Now that she is pro, she misses training with a team, but enjoys different aspects of her new life. She has a new running family and is looking forward to bigger accomplishments.
Gabby hopes to make the world team so she can compete in the IAAF World Championships in Qatar this September.
“I think having ambition is definitely a big part [of success],” she said.
–Jan. 31, 2019–