Bronxville High standout Mary Cain placed 18th overall in the prelims of the 800 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., on Friday and failed to qualify for today’s semifinals.
In her first Olympic trials experience, Cain, 16, finished fifth in the first heat of the 800 with a time of 2 minutes, 4.11 seconds. The top three finishers in each of the four heats plus the next four fastest times qualified for the semifinal field of 16.
“I tried to go out as hard as possible, then try to run as close to the front as possible,” Cain said. “Down towards the end, I think I outraced a few people. For the most part, I was in the fourth and fifth position. I was happy with that.”
Cain was in awe of the experience, getting to run against professionals and college-aged athletes for the first time at the rainy University or Oregon track.
“It was exciting and a little bit nerve-racking,” Cain said. “I was probably the least nervous person in there. I was just so happy to be here. I knew that I was seeded 31st out of 32 people. I knew that if I could hold my own against some of the older runners, that would be great.”
Cain was named the Gatorade Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year for New York state earlier this week. She ran the nation’s second-fastest 1,500 time by a high school girl last Sunday, when she won at the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Bloomington, Ind. Cain finished in 4:14.74, qualifying for July’s World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
In the 400, defending Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt sidestepped a runner who fell in the lane next to him the rain-slickened track and finished in 45.36, the best time in the men’s heats.
Cain took a lot from the experience of racing in the Olympic trials.
“I never count myself out of anything,” she said. “At the same time, I didn’t think that I would get so close. I’m sad that I was two spots out from making the semifinals, but four years from now, maybe then.
“When I got up to the line, they had a really nice announcement for me. They really said a lot, and I had a really good cheering squad in different places, which really made it a lot of fun. So I was really grateful for all those who were cheering for a 16-year-old kid from Bronxville.”