Seyaum, Just 18, Breaks Course Record in B.A.A. Invitational Mile

Contact Info:
T.K. Skenderian (Communications Director)
Boston Athletic Association
185 Dartmouth Street, 6th Floor
Boston MA 02116
e-mail:tk@baa.org
18 APR 2015
Ethiopian Star Claims B.A.A. Invitational Mile In 4:35.4

Seeking shelter from both a headwind and her own inexperience, Dawit Seyaum ran the first loop of the B.A.A. Invitational Mile tucked in behind Morgan Uceny. After all, the 18-year-old from Ethiopia had never run a road mile before, while Uceny was a three-time champion here.

“After the first time around, I was confident,” said Seyaum through a translator. “I thought maybe it was better for me to push.”

And push she did. Seyaum, the 2014 IAAF World Junior Champion at 1500 meters, took a slight lead as the pack began the last of three loops, starting and ending at the Boston Marathon finish line, and by the final turn toward home the young dynamo was fully in command of her elders. Seyaum’s winning time of 4:35.4 smashed the course record of 4:38.6 set by Anna Willard in the event’s inaugural year of 2009.

“It was a very good race,” she said, smiling shyly. She will return to Addis Ababa $3,000 richer for her efforts and with warm memories of a cheering crowd that, her translator said, surprised and delighted her.

Although denied her fourth victory, Uceny sounded upbeat afterward. “I was really happy with the race up until the final 100 meters,” said the Boston-based athlete who in 2011 was ranked #1 in the world at 1500 meters. “The monkey definitely got on my back. It was a bit of a different feeling in this race; usually I come off that last turn feeling really strong. But it was a little faster race than in the past and I felt really good in the front so I wasn’t going to slow down. Dawit got a really good jump on me to take the lead and I still felt like I was able to stick with her, but didn’t quite have it down that last stretch.”

Although Heather Kampf passed Uceny in the final meters to take second in 4:37.0, Uceny’s third-place time of 4:37.7 was six seconds faster than her previous best time in this race.

Seyaum, likely to be a force for years to come, is lacking in neither talent nor ambition. With a 1500-meter personal best of 3:59.53, making her one of only four junior women in history to break four minutes, she was asked about her goals for the rest of 2015.

“3:57,” she replied.

The fastest time in the world last year by a woman of any age? 3:57.0.

In the Girls’ Scholastic Mile, consisting of two runners from each of the eight cities and towns—Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and Boston—along the Boston Marathon course, defending champion Lauren Hazzard and teammate Shelby Arden of Hopkinton worked together for much of the race before Aarden outsprinted Hazzard for the individual crown, 5:25.0 to 5:25.7.

It was the fourth-consecutive team victory for Hopkinton.

Hazzard took off from the gun, and was soon joined by Aarden, Sarah Lagan of Natick, and Kristin DeVellis of Framingham. The four went into the final loop together before the Hopkinton duo pulled away, setting the stage for an intra-squad duel to the line.

“You have to save it up for the last lap,” said Aarden, an 18-year-old senior and veteran on this course, having placed second in the Scholastic Mile in 2012 and third in the Middle School 1K in 2011. A 2013 Boston Globe Cross-Country All-Scholastic, Aarden said of her late-race strategy: “I let my legs take over.”

Lagan finished third, in 5:29.6. “I just tried to stick with them,” she said. “Hopkinton is always super strong. I love this event. It’s so fun.”

Hopkinton swept the Girls’ Middle School 1K as well, with Abigail Fischer leading wire to wire before winning in 3:29.7. Sixth at the Massachusetts State Middle School Cross Country Championships this year, Fischer employed a pragmatic strategy.

“I wanted to go out really hard, because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to push it because I can’t sprint,” she said.
 
Her teammate, Jane Stilwell, had a different approach. “I just kept running,” said the runner-up (3:33.7). “I didn’t worry about strategy.” When she heard her coach yell near the end of the race, she sprinted to outkick Brookline’s Hattie Grant, who finished third in 3:34.1.

B.A.A. Moment

Seyaum, Just 18, Breaks Course Record in B.A.A. Invitational Mile

Seeking shelter from both a headwind and her own inexperience, Dawit Seyaum ran the first loop of the B.A.A. Invitational Mile tucked in behind Morgan Uceny. After all, the 18-year-old from Ethiopia had never run a road mile before, while Uceny was a three-time champion here.

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