She ran like she knew she could.
And like every track fan in the country has come to know she can.
In the process, a 36-year-old U.S. record fell.
Katelyn Tuohy capped a remarkable year of high school running Sunday by clocking the fastest mile ever by an American high school girl.
Competing at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals Track & Field championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, the North Rockland sophomore distanced herself from the field, crossing the finish in 4:33.87.
That was more than 15 seconds faster than runner-up Grace Connolly of Natick, Massachusetts.
Much more important, Tuohy’s time was 1.37 seconds faster than the previous U.S. record set in 1982 by California’s Polly Plumer.
The 2017-18 school year has elevated Tuohy to heights few runners reach.
In the fall, she shattered the cross country course record for high school girls at New York City’s Van Cortlandt Park by more than 30 seconds – a huge achievement considering the thousands of girls who’ve competed there since the 1970s.
She then went on to set a course record while winning the New Balance Cross Nationals in Oregon.
In the winter, she ran the fastest indoor 5,000-meter race by any female American under 20 years of age.
And she set the national girls high school outdoor 3,200-meter mark earlier this spring at the Loucks Games in White Plains.
Tuohy, who last weekend won the girls state 1,500 and 3,000 titles, knew all about Plumer’s record and was gunning for it.
“I’m super happy,” she said afterward. … “It’s up there with one of my biggest accomplishments.”
The fact Tuohy could run that time wasn’t a surprise to her coach, Kyle Murphy. But the fact she ran that time in 95-degree heat was.
And she did so without Murphy, who left North Carolina before Tuohy’s race to get other North Rockland competitors home in time for Monday exams.
“Because of how hot it was and her being there without me, it was big-time today,” said Murphy, who noted, based on how she was running, he started believing six weeks ago that she could gain the U.S. record.
“Her training started to indicate if we kept her fresh and she had enough in the tank, she could break the record,” Murphy said.
But even Tuohy was a “little nervous” about the heat, which was coupled with high humidity.
It was somewhat overcast, though, so the sun wasn’t beating on her as she beat her competition — and Plumer.
Tuohy gapped the rest of the field within the first 100 meters and then it was just a race against Plumer’s decades’-old mark.
“It’s the perfect way to cap off my sophomore year,” Tuohy said. “I think I had an incredible year.”
Murphy, who was assistant coaching at North Rockland before the 2013 death of his father, Robert (Big Murph), who had been the girls head coach for 20 years, pointed to Tuohy’s record coming on Father’s Day as being “super emotional” for him.
“I’m elated. … I don’t even have words,” he said.
But he did have one additional thought: “I can’t even begin to think what she’d run if it were a race and perfect conditions. If she had people with her and it was 75 degrees, God knows how fast she could run.”