Tenn.'s Rebecca Story breaks 40-year-old state record in 1,600-meter run

It looked like the imposing 40-year-old Tennessee state high school record in the girls 1,600-meter run might stand the test of time.

Rebecca Story had other ideas.

Story, a rising senior at Christian Academy of Knoxville, broke the long-standing state record of Margaret Groos Sloan at the Music City Distance Carnival on June 10 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Story’s time of 4 minutes, 45.63 seconds in the high school girls elite one-mile race translated into a 1,600 conversion time of 4:43.97.

The mile is about 9.3 meters longer than the 1,600, and was the natural distance for years until the pressure to go to the metric system in track prevailed. The 1,600 became the equivalent distance comparable to the mile, which is lesser run now and is also four laps.

Sloan, who is somewhat of a legend in state track and field history, set the previous 1,600 record of 4:45.44 in 1977 when she attended Harpeth Hall.

Her 1,600 time was the oldest girls track and field record in the state.

Sloan was a three-time state cross country champion who went on to star at Virginia and eventually ran the marathon in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Story, who ended her season ranked as the No. 1 junior girls high school track and field recruit in the nation by at least two services, had her sights set on Sloan’s record entering the race.

“At the beginning of the season my coach and I set some goals,” Story said Wednesday.

“One of my goals was to get a 4:45 in the mile, or lower. I got 4:48 at the KIL and I was really excited about that. I just figured I’d go for it (the record) at the Music City race. It was really special crossing the finish line knowing I had the Tennessee state record.”

Story, who last month won the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 at the Class A/AA state meet for the second year in a row,  was never challenged in the race.

She led from start to finish and was well ahead of second-place Morgan Claire Rose (4:55.16) of Kirk Academy (Miss.).

“No question, we went to absolutely do that (break the record),” said Olympian and former University of Tennessee track standout Tony Cosey, Story’s personal coach. “We were actually shooting for closer to 4:40.”

Cosey said the race was another resume padder for Story, who was named Girls Athlete of the Year, Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year and Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year at the News Sentinel Sports Awards last week.

“Rebecca has put herself in a very small field of the best distance runners ever in high school,” Cosey said.

“That is such a stellar time. It is definitely one of the top five races she has ever run.”

Sloan, who lives in Franklin, was on hand to see her record fall.

She met with Story after the race and the two had their picture taken together.

“She came out and supported me,” said Story. “She was there, cheering me on. It was cool.”

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