Greensboro, NC - No female athlete has ever held both the Outdoor Mile and 2-Mile National Records at the same time. That's a feat only the precocious sophomore Katelyn Tuohy (North Rockland) can now claim. After winning the Loucks Games 3200m in National Record time of 9:47.88, which converts to 9:51.29 for the full distance. Now, at New Balance Outdoor Nationals, in 90+ degree heat, Tuohy soloed a new Mile National Record at 4:33.87.
The mark breaks the prior record held by Alexa Efraimson (Camas, WA) set in 2014 at 4:39.89, a converted time over 1600m. The true mile record was held by Polly Plumer (University, CA) from back in 1982 at 4:35.24. The original 2-Mile Record that Tuohy broke at Loucks was held by Brie Oakley (Grandview, CO) at 9:51.35.
However, there is one note to mention about that record double. Mary Cain hold's the Indoor distinction for having both the Indoor Mile and 2-Mile Records, which surpass those set by Tuohy outdoors. Likewise, Cain has Outdoor 1500m and 3000m marks that convert superior as well. However, Tuohy was able to achieve her marks in HS Only races, while Cain, who was also older at the time, did so in Professional or International races.
The Cain Conversation Continues...
Many people have become critical in recent years of Mary Cain's decision to turn Pro in High School, but as Tuohy and Cain continue to have mirror image progressions, the similarities are hard to ignore. They both have been dropping similar times, at similar rates, with Tuohy having a marginal advantage over Cain year over year. However, Junior year was where Cain really took off, in large part to the aforementioned coaching change. Had Cain stayed competing in High School, she would have progressed more likely on the same linear route as Tuohy's path is now. However, her jump to the Pro ranks prevented the rest of her HS career from playing out much like Tuohy's race on Sunday: A time-trial against the clock in every race she enters.
The change led to Cain's success at both the National and International level, which saw wins at the USA Senior Championships, and World Junior Championships. If Tuohy is looking to make similar jumps, some Pro races and International competition may be required in the coming years, which can happen without transitioning to the Pro ranks. For Cain, who was ready to leave the sport entirely before Alberto came along, the Oregon Project was her only gateway to that path. Without Alberto, there would have been no Mary Cain, and her continuing effect on the sport. Cain opened up the track world to the possibilities of female HS running, a boom that included Alexa Efraimson in the following year, and many to come after that. It is this boom, and the one set by Jordan Hasay that more than likely allowed for the possibility of Cain herself, that continues to elevate female prep running to where it is today. Much like the boys were elevated when Lukas Verzbicas (Sandburg, IL) first broke four mins in 2011 after a long hiatus of HS prep's doing so, Cain, alongside the rise of digital media running sites like MileSplit, have reinvigorated the sport.
A recent NY Times article decided to highlight the Cain-Tuohy comparison once again. There seemed to be a contrast to the articles content, and it's Title, although there were some logical points made about the progression of female athletes. In the following days, a rebuttal was published that answered some of the public's biggest issues with the original article, which we highly recommend (*Editors Note: We supplied some brief photo coverage for the article.) The main takeaway from both is that natural physiology probably had more of an effect on Cain than anything OP did. The only way Alberto could continue to keep Cain racing at the same level would be to keep her from growing into an adult body, something many female athletes know to be unhealthy. That didn't happen, and there seems to be an unjustified resentment that Cain, now 22, isn't racing the same as her 16 year old self.
The biggest takeaway from the rebuttal is that changes should be expected and embraced, not feared or dreaded. Another thing to note about both articles, and the one you are reading now, is that all three were written by male authors. For a female perspective on a similar article, we can offer you one of MileSplit's most read articles ever, "Dear High School Lauren."
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As we mentioned earlier in the year, we still believe that comparing these two athletes is a dangerous trend. The parallels between them are uncanny, which prompts many of the comparisons, but they are two separate athletes. Cain was more of a speed runner who could adapt to differing race tactics, while Tuohy has been more about clockwork consistency and strength. You can see that when Tuohy's split in the 3200m for 3000m was nearly identical to the time she ran for the open 3k at States. Tuohy also has an awareness of Mary's precedent that Cain may not have had from athletes before her, for better or worse. That alone can allow Tuohy to adapt when needed, but also embrace her own individuality and natural progression. And no female distance runner is equal. Alexa Efraimson, who also had a very similar trajectory to both Cain and Tuohy in HS, is still going strong, avoiding the slowdown of many HS runners her caliber. And yet, when the NY Times portrays Cain as a 'cautionary tale," it portrays natural, biological growth as the enemy. That, too, is a dangerous trend. For now, Katelyn should continue being Katelyn, and not worry about the comparison. However, as like Cain, at the end of the day, nothing can take away from the fact that they are two of the greatest American HS distance runners of all-time, sure to pave the way for future athletes of their own.