Mary Cain was on her way to JFK late Wednesday afternoon for her cross-country trip of a young lifetime, a chance to run in the 800 meters at the Olympic Trials in Oregon.
“I think it’s still kind of sinking in a little bit,” the 16-year-old Bronxville sophomore said on her cell from the car.
An email had arrived overnight, according to her mom, Mary, confirming that Cain had indeed made the 32-runner field to race at Hayward Field in Eugene. Later in this eventful day, there was another significant announcement. Cain could take this satisfying news along for the ride: She’s the 2011-12 Gatorade New York Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Cain, now a finalist for Gatorade’s national award in her sport. “It’s been a goal of mine for a few years. One boy from our school got it in soccer one year. The banner was up there in our gym for a long time. That’s how I first heard about it. But I’m definitely excited because now I get a nice banner.”
Cain is now in the same Gatorade company as Derek Jeter, Mark Sanchez, Candace Parker, Abby Wambach and track Olympians Allyson Felix and Lolo Jones.
Former Suffern runner Shelby Greany is a former winner, too.
The honor is also meant to salute academic success and character. Cain owns a 4.10 GPA and has volunteered in youth track and with the Westchester Shore Humane Society.
She cemented her banner by running the second-fastest 1,500 in the annals of U.S. prep girls track this past Sunday when she won at the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Indiana. Cain finished in 4 minutes, 14.74 seconds, clinching a spot in July’s World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
Prior to that, she had successfully defended her Federation and state Division 2 titles in the 1,500 and took the mile at the Penn Relays in 4:39.28, the nation’s fastest girls time this season.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Cain said. “I think at the end of the day, that’s kind of the most important thing.”