By lowering her previous personal best by more than three seconds and winning the women’s 1,000 meters on Saturday at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, American teenager Mary Cain had reason to celebrate. It was tempered, though, because she had much higher hopes.
“I was definitely trying to get the American record, you always want it, and in the back of my mind, maybe the world [record],” Cain said, after winning the race at the Reggie Lewis Center. “I actually think I probably could have gone faster. I think I maybe could have gotten it, or gotten closer.”
Cain, a 17-year-old from Bronxville, N.Y., ran the 1,000 meters in 2 minutes, 35.80 seconds, beating Chanelle Price (2:36.63) by less than a second. It was much faster than Cain’s previous best of 2:39.25, which also had been the world junior record at the distance. But it was slower than the US record of 2:34.19, and well off the world mark of 2:30.94.
In front of a sold-out crowd, Cain waited until the straightaway on the final lap before taking the lead, making brief contact with Treniere Moser, who was in front with one lap to go. Cain had enough kick at the end to hold off Price, then wanted to seek out Moser to apologize for the inadvertent elbow.
At least Cain had a fairly stress-free finish to her race. Not so for Jenny Simpson, who was gunning for the US record in the women’s 2-mile, the final event of the meet. Simpson was on pace to easily get it, but then lost count of the number of laps remaining. When Simpson sprinted past Sally Kipyego of Kenya and crossed the finish line on what she thought was the last lap, there actually was one lap remaining. Simpson, who had slowed thinking she had just won, saw Kipyego run past her. By the time Simpson got back up to speed, too much time had elapsed and too much separation had been created. Kipyego finished first in 9:21.04, Simpson second in 9:26.19. The US record is 9:23.38.
“I deserve not to get it, because I was dumb and didn’t keep track of things,” said Simpson, who sheepishly admitted that she also did not pay attention to the visual lap counter positioned at the finish line. “I thought I had it together in my head, and I wasn’t going to need the lap counter. Lesson learned.”
At least Simpson finished her race. Galen Rupp did not, souring the men’s mile, the other marquee event on the 19-event schedule. Rupp, who had set two US records last month on Boston University’s track, was in the middle of the pack with slightly more than 400 meters left when he pulled up with a limp. After the race, Rupp said his left leg was sore, but was optimistic it wouldn’t interfere with two big races coming up: the US Indoor Track & Field Championships (Feb. 21-23) in Albuquerque, N.M., and hopefully the IAAF World Indoor Championships (March 7-9) in Poland.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious. I didn’t want to risk anything for the important meet that’s in a couple weeks. It just wasn’t worth the risk to try to sprint on it, I think,” Rupp said. “I’m not worried about it, I think I’ll be fine. I’m disappointed I couldn’t finish today, but I was just trying to be smart about it.”
With Rupp taking himself out of the race, Nick Willis of New Zealand coasted to the victory, winning in 3:57.41. He was happy with the result, but aware that it might include an asterisk.
“The win was the first and foremost goal,” Willis said. “After Galen Rupp’s record performances, I knew it would take quite a whole lot of effort to beat someone in that sort of form, so it’s a shame he ended up going out of the race. I wanted to see whether it would be enough to take him down or not.”
A world record was set in the men’s 4 x 800-meter relay. The team of Richard Jones, David Torrence, Robby Andrews, and Erik Sowinski finished in 7:13.11, lowering the mark of 7:13.94 that had been set at this meet in 2000. It’s the seventh world record in the meet’s 19-year history.
The junior boys’ mile featured four runners from Massachusetts, but it was Tony Russell, a high school senior from West Chester, Pa., who broke the tape. Russell, headed to Penn State in the fall, won in 4:11.56. Gabe Montague (4:14.13) and Mike Schlichting (4:14.57), teammates at Newton North, finished third and fourth, respectively. Paul Hogan (4:18.21) of Burlington was eighth, and Nick Carleo (4:18.58) of Newburyport took ninth.
In the junior girls’ mile, Olivia Lantz of Manchester fell during the race, and finished 12th in 5:16.75. Maddy Berkson of Providence won in 4:56.0.Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.