NEW YORK – Sammy Watson of Rush-Henrietta (N.Y.) set the American high school indoor record for 800 meters on Saturday, shattering a time-honored mark set by Mary Decker, one of the most storied middle-distance runners in U.S. history.
The record, set at the NYRR Millrose Games in New York City, is Watson’s second in a month. She set a new U.S. girls standard for the indoor 600 meters in late January, and then broke her own record in the 600 at another meet in early February.
Watson finished with a time of 2:01.78, besting Decker’s junior record of 2:01.80, which had stood since 1974, according to the event’s website. Mary Decker, later Mary Decker Slaney, blazed to dozens of national and world records in the 1970’s and 1980’s and was a four-time Olympian.
In a stunning result, Ajee’ Wilson set the women’s indoor 800-meter record in the same race that Watson set her mark. The Rush-Henrietta senior finished sixth overall in the race, and did not immediately realize she’d shattered Decker’s national girl’s record, set 43 years ago.
“Oh wow,” Watson said. She said she had been going for the state record but hadn’t realized she had set a U.S. record.
Wilson, of Philadelphia, won the event for the fourth straight year, finishing in 1 minute, 58.27 seconds at The Armory to break the mark of 1:58.71 set by Nicole Teter in 2002.
Watson, who is the reigning U18 and U20 world champion in the 800 meters, plans to run in college, though she has not yet announced her choice of schools. She tried out for the U.S. women’s Olympic team last summer, and is considered a prime candidate to make the team in 2020.