Race in the Dark - Katelyn Tuohy Lights It Up in 2015 Debut

The first day of the 2015 Red Raider Relays was delayed for more than an hour after a frightening accident in the horizontal jumping area involving a meet official. Bringing in an ambulance around the track and transporting the injured official to the hospital had moved the start times back well beyond any expectations.

By the time the five sections of the girls and boys 3200 meter races were ready to go to end off the day, it was night. This was a problem at North Rockland because the field had no light towers, just two big lamps on either side of the finish line to illuminate the final 20 meters.  

Since there was no point in shooting any of the action in the dark from the roof of the press box, the MileSplit camera was brought down to the finish area to catch what it could on a chilly evening. The outdoor track debut of a promising North Rockland 7th grader named Katelyn Tuohy was going to be leading off the 3200 action in the first and fastest girls section, so it seemed like a good idea to stick around and film even though 95% of the race would be out of sight.

Tuohy had impressed during the indoor season by running the second best 1500 meter time of 4:36.57 for NY runners in 2015 while winning the Section 1 State Qualifier, and she had placed 4th at States with a time that was more than five seconds off her top time. She had finished off her 7th grade winter season with a 1st in the Junior High Mile at Indoor Nationals with a 4:59.93.

At Red Raider a little over a month since Indoor Nationals, there was big anticipation about how Tuohy would do in a high-powered 3200 meter field that included many runners who would finish in the top 25 in the state that year in the 1500, 3000, or steeplechase. Among the favorites were Tuohy's sophomore teammate Alex Harris who would go on to win the Nationals 2K steeplechase in June, Monroe-Woodbury's Katie Munks who would finish 4th in the States 3K, Briarcliff's Caroline Pennacchio who in a month would win the Westchester County 3K title. and Suffern's Rachel Ludwikowski who had finished 5th in the 2015 States Indoor 3K. Other big names in the race included Ward Melville's Molly Dearie, Cornwall's Ashley Wallace, John Jay-Cross River's Gemma Nuttall, and Garden City's Stephanie Gerland.

Also precociously present were a group of Tuohy's younger cohorts that included Pearl River 8th grader Mary Borkoski who in late May would take 1st in the Section 1 SQ 3K, North Rockland 7th grader Haleigh Morales who would finish 3rd in the highly competitive Rockland County 1500, and Suffern 7th grader Mary Hennelly who would have a tremendous early series of steeplechase races that culminated in a 10th at Nationals.

The runners in the first section of the girls 3200m spent a long time in the cold and dark doing run outs while waiting for the race to kick off. The starter's gun finally sounded and twenty-six runners headed out into the night. Not much can be remembered about the race because no one really saw much except each of the runners appearing in the light for a few seconds near the finish line on eight separate occasions. Spectators in the back stretch stands stomped on the bleachers to create a rolling steel drum type noise that might have helped as an audio cue for the runners, none of whom had remembered to bring a flashlight to the meet.

Rye's Maggie McDermott led the race through the first three laps, but Tuohy then jumped to the front and hit the halfway point with a few meters lead and around a 5:23 time. Munks stayed fairly close behind in 2nd during the 5th and 6th laps, but by the 7th lap Tuohy had opened a 5 second gap. Her final 400 was run in a speedier 76 seconds as she finished in 10:49.36.

The mark would be an NY 3200 best for 2015 until three weeks later when Arlington senior Bella Burda ran about 25 seconds faster at the Loucks Invite. Ursuline's Anna Flynn and Burda finished about 15 seconds ahead of Tuohy in the Section 1 SQ Division 1 3K a month and half later to keep the 7th grader from a repeat trip to States in her first year of track, and Burda would dominate the 3K championship in June at the University of Albany.

Tuohy's teammate Alex Harris dropped a 71 second final lap to finish 2nd in the Red Raider 3200 in 10:52.61. Pennacchio, Munks, and Ludwikowski all went under 11:00 to finish 3rd through 5th.

Tuohy, Morales, and Hennelly all had older brothers who finished up about a half hour later in the first of three sections of the boys 3200. That race was won by Northport's Mikey Brannigan in 9:03.82, a time that he would better by 21 seconds three weeks later at Loucks when he pulled ten runners to the finish in under 9 minutes. 2nd in the Red Raider 3200 was Tappan Zee's Luke Gavigan, who would take 3rd in the 2015 States 1600 after winning in 2014 by .02 seconds over Brannigan. Monroe-Woodbury's Jack Jibb was 3rd at Red Raider, and he would wrap up his senior 2015 season by winning the States 3K and Nationals 2K steeplechase titles.