Mary Cain can run a mile in under five minutes. Last year she won the New York Class C state title and was named first-team all-state in girls cross country. A few weeks ago she shattered the Bronxville High School record in the 5,000 meters by 40 seconds in a race at Warwick High.
In June, she qualified for the Pan American Games and the World Youth Championships. But she's just 15, so she isn't actually old enough to compete.
"She's still young," Bronxville Coach Jim Mitchell said. "It's hard to swallow sometimes."
Cain, now a sophomore at Bronxville, was originally a swimmer. But in seventh grade she took to the land, running varsity track.
"I had absolutely no idea what to expect," Cain said. "I really had no expectations for myself."
"From the beginning you could tell she was a talented kid, but you're never sure," Mitchell added.
But it didn't take long for Mitchell to be sure of what he had in Cain. That year she qualified to run the 3,000 meters at the state meet and ran in the 4 x mile relay at nationals.
"What she has done is unheard of," Mitchell said.
Cain's proudest achievement to date is when she broke a 29-year-old New York state high school record in the 1,500, running a 4:23:01. Then, this past June, she broke her own record by nearly six seconds, finishing in 4:17:83.
"It was truly amazing, I was shocked," she said. "I must admit that I was nervous before that race."
Most importantly and impressively, according to Mitchell, Cain is never satisfied with what she has accomplished. Each season Mitchell and Cain carefully push her workouts while setting reasonable goals to help keep her focused.
"She wants to challenge herself every day," Mitchell said. "More and more I've been allowing her to go off on her own [at practice]. She's so good that no one can stay with her."
Cain hopes to add to an already stunning resume by qualifying for the Olympic Trials next summer, probably in the 1,500 meters. And despite her laundry list of accomplishments, Cain knows that earning a spot in the Olympics will be difficult.
"It's hard to imagine the pressure and excitement," she said.
When she's talking about running, Cain doesn't sound like a 15-year-old girl. Tather, she sounds like a seasoned, veteran athlete who truly loves and appreciates her craft.
"I don't like to get ahead of myself," Cain said. "My main goal is to try to continue to improve. I take one race at a time and make sure to enjoy myself."
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