By Barbara Huebner
In the past, Morgan Uceny had to fly all the way from Mammoth Lakes, CA, to win the B.A.A. Invitational Mile.
This year, she just took the Green Line.
“I took the T from my house this morning, all dressed in my uniform,” said Uceny, who re-located to the Boston area along with her coach, Terrence Mahon, this winter. “That was pretty special.”
Special, too, was the 29-year-old’s third victory in the mile, following wins in 2010 and 2012. The win, in 4:44.0, was good for $3,000 and the honor of becoming the event’s first three-time winner, male or female.
Uceny’s experience on the three-lap course, which begins and ends on Boylston Street at the Boston Marathon finish line, is no small advantage.
“As soon as I was in the lead I felt comfortable there, and I knew how to take those corners,” she said.
A three-time U.S. champion and 2012 Olympian who in 2011 was ranked #1 in the world at 1500 meters, Uceny was joined by Kenya’s Violah Lagat in leading the pack of seven through the first two laps. Coming around the final turn, it was Uceny, Heather Kampf and Brie Felnagle in contention, and that’s how they would finish. After Uceny broke the tape in 4:44.0, she was quickly followed by Kampf in 4:44.3 and Felnagle in 4:44.8.
“It’s a little bit frustrating because I think I knew exactly what I needed to do to win and just didn’t quite have a big-enough move on the backstretch to get in the lead,” said Kampf, 27, who competed at the World Indoor Championships this winter and was the 2012 U.S. Road Mile Champion. “Because whoever’s in front on that curve is probably going to keep it as long as they have some sort of a kick.”
Last year, Uceny missed this race while recovering from injuries sustained after a dramatic fall in the 1500-meter final of the London Olympics. It wasn’t until late last season that the Indiana native, who competed for Cornell University, started coming around, with a win at the CityGames road mile in Great Britain and a runner-up finish at the Fifth Avenue Mile Presented by Nissan in New York City.
But this outdoor season, she is starting off with not only a win in front of her new hometown crowd, but also a chance to experience Marathon Monday like a native.
“I live right in Cleveland Circle, so I’ll be able to pop outside my door and hopefully cheer everybody on,” she said.
Uceny wasn’t the only three-time winner on Saturday. In the Girls’ Scholastic Mile, which consists of two athletes from each of the eight cities and towns along the Boston Marathon course—Hopkinton, Ashland, Natick, Framingham, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston—Hopkinton won the team title for the third consecutive year thanks to a one-two finish by Hopkinton High School junior Lauren Hazzard and senior Melissa Lodge.
Hazzard, whose personal best of 5:06.77 was set in winning the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association (MSTCA) mile this winter, broke the tape in 5:22.7 in a comfortable victory over the dueling Lodge (5:34.0) and Katie Collins of Newton (5:34.3).
“Our goal was to win again,” said Hazzard. “I was definitely nervous, but I felt good so I just went for it.”
Collins—a freshman who learned just two days before the race that she would be replacing a teammate—led Newton to the second-place team prize, with Framingham rounding out the podium.
For Lodge, it was the fourth time on this course: the last three years in the mile and, before that, once as a middle schooler in the 1000-meter race. She came here as the defending champion, but has only recently recovered from a stress reaction and was happy to take home with the silver medal.
Her sister, Kellie, competed in three Scholastic Miles before Melissa wrapped things up this year. “Sadly, it’s our last year, but it was a good way to end it.”
Or to end the tradition in the mile, at least: Another sister, Lauren, will run the Marathon on Monday.
In the Girls’ 1000-Meter Middle School Run, Keara Westover took the win in 3:21.8 to lead her Boston team to the team victory. Newton finished second, with Brookline third.Westover, the Massachusetts Middle School Cross-Country Champion, was in fourth place midway through the race but before surging as the group hit the final-lap backstretch on Newbury Street and winning handily. In second was Rose Teszler of Newton (3:28.7); third was Olivia Vernon of Wellesley (3:29.4).
The winner acknowledged that she was “terrified” coming into the race.
“It was so much fun!” she said.