Top 10 NY Moments From 2013 P4

Well folks, that's it for the 2012-2013 seasons for Cross Country and Track and Field.  With the conclusion of the World Youth Championships, the majority of our athletes are home for the season, and building towards either college or those cross country courses in the fall.  We here at MileSplit NY have just finished our second year under new management, and have made strides in bringing you the best coverage around.  We've had a banner year on twitter, becoming the most followed state in the network, as well as nearly 11 million page views since September.  In terms of athletes, we've had unparalled performances, new breakout stars, and countless new state records.  To keep it succint, it has been another great year for the Empire State.  To commemorate the end of the season, we'd like to look back at our top 10 moments from the past year.  These may not be the fastest times or best performances, but they were moments that were aided by the stories behind them, the rivalries established, and the accomplishments achieved.  We'll be releasing two a day, with the top pick being released on Saturday night.  While they are ranked numerically, their order is only slightly important.  Each moment proved thrilling for the track fan, and we look forward to even more in 2014.  And be sure to sound off in our comments for moments you think we missed, as cutting this down to a list of ten was not easy.

Part 1 - 10. Suffern's Stacked Septet,  9. Holt Grabs Gold

Part 2 - 8. New York Conquers Oregon, 7. Lee Doesn't Let Up

Part 3 - 6. Baird Goes Unbeaten, 5. Sophomore Sensations

 

4. Hammering Away At All Records Possible

Sometimes, the current High School system in New York State does not benefit every athlete.  Some events are underrepresented, and others are nonexistent in regular competition.  Athletes who excel in these sometimes, "niche" events, pursue the club or USATF route of competition, showing up at certain national caliber meets in-season.  Rudy Winkler of Averill Park is one such athlete.  Winkler, a once top athlete in the shot put and discus, excelled however, in the throwing events not always contested.  Indoors, it was the weight throw, while outdoors, the Hammer Throw caught his eye.  He became so proficient at the latter, that by the end of sophomore year, he had given up all other throwing events all together.  He had also joined up with Paddy McGrath, whom himself was proficient in the Hammer Throw, and now ran a club in the center of the state.  This is when Winkler started the chase.

While Indoors, Winkler was always a national threat in the weight throw.  He leaves high school as the three time reigning national champ, winning the New Balance Indoor Nationals three  years running.  But even that seemed only a warmup for the Cornell recruit.  It was Outdoors where he had soared from a National Championship threat, to one that could challenge the USA All-Time lists.  He was presented with a problem that afflicts many of New York Athletes.  The State Record for New York was almost as hard as the National Record, falling just one spot behind that leader.  Walt Henning of St. Anthony's rocked the event back in 2006, (so much so that the Armory has to elongate their indoor throwing cage just to accommodate his long throws).  He left High School with every state record, class and overall, from his 8th grade year through graduation.  But Winkler would challenge the superstar, putting in a throw just 1.5 inches short of the junior class record.  Winkler had been flirting with the mark all season, which enabled him to represent Team USA in Barcelona that summer.  But he would return for his senior campaign with the goal still on his mind.

The 2013 season started much like the others.  Rudy was training with his same training group, a selection of Collegiate and High School hammer throwers.  He had just come off his final Indoor National Title, and was looking to throw far outdoors.  His coach, recently being certified by USATF to hold meets, created a venue for competition.  There, Winkler would begin to perfect his method, clearing 230 ft in all of his early campaign's.  As the meets became more established, and the senior traveled, he had hit 245-10 before heading off to Chicago, where he won the Chicagoland Throwers Series with a Season Best of 254-9.75.  It was just an inch short of the overall state record, a mark which stood quite high on the USA All-Time list as well.  It had put Winkler into position to take the title.  Unfortunately, it would not come at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, where he would throw 251-7.75, but it would be another milestone in his career, as the first time members of Paddy's training group swept the boys and girls competition over Southern powerhouse Throw1Deep.  And again, Winkler had a few more shots.  Competing outside the High School schedule has that luxury. 

On July 2nd, our number 4 top moment of 2013 occurred at the West Point Military Base.  In regular competition, Winkler let loose a monster throw (video footage below), which eclipsed all other marks before it.  Fouling four of his six throws with possibly even bigger marks, Winkler's legal toss of 260-05 makes him US #1 All-Time in High School competition, defeating California's Connor McCullough's mark from 2008.  Rudy still has a few more competitions left in-season, before heading up to Cornell, and still has one more record to chase.  The American Junior Record, which is eligible to any athlete who does not turn 20 in the year the mark was achieved, is owned by McCullough again, only a small distance away at 265-0.  We'll have our eye on Winkler to see if he can take down this mark as well.

Relevant Articles

Rudy Winkler Breaks Two Records At Once

Rudy Winkler: Track Chat

Outdoor Nationals Meet Recap

 

 

3. A Marigold Grows In Bronxville

There are too many cliches to count to properly introduce the next entrant on our list.  I tend to believe only one comes to mind: What a difference a year can make.  It was only last year that Mary Cain could be considered New York's best kept secret.  Sure, she had garnered a couple state titles, while also managing to make a couple National races exciting as well.  But nothing like what happened after she went 4:11.01 over 1500m representing USA in Barcelona, then considered an impossible feat as she blasted the then-current national record.  It was at that time, that the world took notice of the girl we had seen since seventh grade.  But not even that mark, or even any of the national records she has set since, lays claim to the number 3 spot on our list of top moments from 2013.

That moment belongs to a crisp day on October 13th, where junior Mary Cain went 14:03.90 at the Manhattan Invitational in Van Cortlandt Park.  She would end up running the fastest time of the day, only 7 seconds off the vaunted course record, despite running in an unseeded section.  That singular moment represented the end of a chapter in the young phenom's life, and the beginning of her rise to dominance.  It would be the last time Cain would race under the Bronxville singlet, a relationship that had become confrontational and controversial in the trailing months.  With that departure also came her decision to leave in-season High School competition, as it would stand as her last High School sanctioned race, (NXN removed).  But as one door closes, another opened.  Legendary distance coach, Alberto Salazar, had been in conversation with the Cain family throughout the fall, as first only a consultant, but eventually filling in as coach.  It was the first time the general public heard inklings of the arrangement, and immediately, everyone had an opinion.

Under new leadership, Cain began to flourish.  She completed her XC career with a return to Van Cortlandt Park, followed by a second place finish at NXN.  By late December, it was clear the mindset was already on track, and the focus was long term.  It would be a full month of training before Cain would hit the track, another perk of working outside the busy high school schedule.  She elected to begin her season in Washington, at the 3000m distance, where she would set a new national all-around record of 9:02.10 for the 3000m.  It would begin a trend in her competitions.  Not only was she competing against professional runners, she was winning her races against the pros.  Even more impressively, it would begin a run, that until just recently, would include a personal best, a new national record, and a new level of media exposure for every time she would step on the track.  Her exploits include the youngest person to ever win a USA National Title, (Indoors over 1500m), as well as the youngest team to make a World's team, after qualifying second for the Championships later this summer.  But all of these accomplishments can be traced back to that moment in October, where the decision was finally made.

Some people may look at these accomplishments, and wonder why it would not place higher on this list.  The answer to that question lies in another question; How many of us were really surprised with the success she has had?  Her talent had been undeniable, and when paired with a coach such as Salazar, you knew amazing was coming.  Like it or not, Cain has brought the sport back to relevance in the national consciousness, as she has been highlighted by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and numerous other national media outlets.  The term, "The Mary Cain Effect", has been coined to describe the general increase in elite level times at the high school level.  As Usain Bolt had done in 2008, Mary Cain has proven that barriers of speed can be broken at any age, and the rest of the country is ready to try and catch up.  Her effect on the sport as a whole has slingshotted the "nerdy" junior of lower New York to a fame once relegated only to the football players of the school systems.  Whether you question the decision to leave high school competition when she did, it is hard to argue that the sport is not better for it.

Just to highlight some of the marks achieved since leaving High School Competition, we've listed all the marks of the past year.

Relevant Articles

A Father's Focus: Cain's Running A Family Affair

Boston Strong: Where The Cain Train First Started Rolling

Here Come's Mary Cain: Sports Illustrated Highlight Piece

 

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