Katelyn Tuohy (North Rockland), the three-time Nike Cross Nationals individual champion and indoor national record holder for 5,000 meters, will once again be joining the professional races on Saturday at the Armory as an unattached athlete at the Dr. Sander Invitational in New York City.
Much like last year, she will be lining up in the 3,000m run, against both collegiate and professional athletes, as an unattached athlete.
Last year, Tuohy placed third overall in the race -- behind two pro athletes -- but managed to come away with the Indoor National High School Record in the event, running 9:01.81. That mark bettered the pre-existing record set by Mary Cain in 2013, at 9:04.51.
Interestingly enough, this year's version will pit those two together.
In an rare occurrence, Tuohy will match up against Cain, the former high school phenom from Bronxville (NY) High School, though Cain, 23, will now be competing as a professional. The pair are considered to among the greatest female distance runners in track and field and cross country history.
After leaving the Nike Oregon Project, Cain has been posting steady improvements at numerous race distances, the most relevant being a 9:25.50 run at the start of the month.
The duo first met when Tuohy was the recipient of the Gatorade XC Athlete of the Year award in 2018; Cain delivered the trophy. The second meeting was more recent, on the starting line at the USATF Club Cross County Championships this December.
Tuohy took second overall in the 6K race, while Cain was 33rd.
But for Tuohy, Saturday's race will be more about that 9-minute barrier, as well as an improvement in tactics at the higher level. In 2019, she found herself boxed-in then out kicked. Racing at the collegiate and professional level, races typically play out that way, as opposed to the more run-from-the-gun technique that prep athletes employ.
The race should be a good test of fitness for Tuohy, who recently ran under 2:50 for the 1000m at the Ocean Breeze Freedom Games.
Full Dr. Sander Field Below:
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But the Dr. Sander Invite will not be Tuohy's final foray into the higher ranks.
On February 28, Tuohy will line up in the 5,000m at the BU Last Chance Invitational in Boston, her coach, Brian Diglio, confirmed to MileSplit on Thursday.
While she will be facing collegiate athletes looking to qualify for the NCAA Championships (hence the meet name), so the competition is expected to be quick. Last year, Tuohy's effort for 5000m came at the VA Showcase, where she smashed the National Record in an all-High School Race, running 15:37.12.
Touhy has applied for, and received, a waiver from the New York State High School Athletic Association to compete here, and it looks to be a first effort in running a time that could qualify her for the Olympic Trials in June.
The time standard is 15:20, and for one of the first times, indoor marks count towards that time goal. This plan could dictate why Tuohy has pushed back her 5K debut this year indoors to a later date -- to have more fitness in an attempt to supersede the time.
The race is significant in a few ways.
For the third time in recent memory, Tuohy has applied for the "Olympic Effort" rule. Typically, high school athletes are not allowed to run against collegiate athletes in uniform. They are allowed to run against collegiate and professionals at any time, as long all are "unattached."
However, there is one small exception. If an athlete is chasing an Olympic or USA Trials Standard in an event that is not offered at the high school level, through National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) sanctioning, they are allowed, with pre-approved permission, to race against collegiate athletes in uniform.
The event at Boston University will fall under this rule.
The rule was last used in 2012, when Brianna Nerud (North Shore) was in search of a 3,000m Steeplechase standard. And because high school races only contest the 2,000m Steeplechase for female athletes, Nerud was forced to go to the collegiate ranks.
She ran 10:00.72 for the distance, which still stands as the state and national high school record in that event.