March 15th, 2017

New Balance Nationals   The Armory, NYC   March 12, 2017

     The New Balance Nationals is truly a “national” meet . In our event alone, there were teams from 14 different states including Michigan, Alabama, North Carolina, Ohio, and Massachusetts. While we were there we also listened to the recording of new national records and world junior bests. Of course, that can be pretty intimidating and our girls were nervous (as were all of us), but we were sure they would run their best….and they did…..and better than any RFH team before them. 

     As recently as February 12th, our best for the season was a middling 4:11, but that was about to change. The Group II Championship was only the 2nd time the eventual ensemble raced as a unit and they were just off the RFH record at 4:04.79. At the Meet of Champions they broke through with a 4:01.38 and followed that with a 4:00.41 at the Easterns which qualified them for the Championship Division at this one. One of the sportswriters pointed out to us that the girls could have medalled in the somewhat easier “Emerging Elite” division, but they qualified for the Championship and chose to run that.

     As good as we are, we were only seeded 32nd of 35 teams coming into this race. Lily Orr had also picked up some back and side soreness that kept her from full practice. The whole contingent had had a long season, none more so than our Captain, Grace Hofferber, who had run a ton of high pressure races, along with being our anchor leg.

     We were really grateful to our alternates and other teammates who made the trip, and there were lots of family and friends also in attendance, which made it all the more special. Coach Keogh had them all prepped and it was time.

     It was quite a race.

      We had made one significant change in moving KATIE MACGILLIS to the leadoff spot and it worked out well. Running 3rd leg at the Easterns, she had been given a lead and, at this point in her career, she doesn’t know pace well enough to tell how she is doing without someone to chase. So, that was enough of a change that might rattle someone less mature, but the meet also dictated that everyone use starting blocks (we did not know that – she was going to use a standing start) and all of a sudden she was trying to adjust into them. She stayed cool, however, figured it out, and the gun fired.

     The three inside teams jetted right out and, as expected. Katie was buried and last at the 200m. We had told her, however, to stay positive and to expect that, and that they would start to come back. With 100 to go, she moved into 4th and closed on the front trio who were suddenly backing up.

     We had a solid stick pass and CAMPBELL DEVLIN took over. She also seemed over matched in the early going, but came through in a solid 200m. It didn’t look like much would happen from there when suddenly, with 50m to go, she put on a burst and unexpectedly closed up to the leading trio. 

     LILY ORR blasted right out as she does and the battle was on. She hung tough through a swift 27+ at 200m and just kept battling the whole way as she passed two of the leaders, while one of the trailing teams had a monster 3rd leg as well and closed. As it was, Lily gave us a lifetime best on her carry.

     That left it to our Captain and anchor, GRACE HOFFERBER. It ended up being a three team duel with two big anchors and Grace had to do a good amount of running on the outside… but she really had no choice. The three of them were shoulder to shoulder the whole way until the strain for the finish.  We were only 2/100ths out of 2nd (they had a 55 anchor !) and 13/100ths out of the win (they had a 57), but the main goal had been attained when the time was flashed….RFH’s first sub 4:00. This time also made us the #7 team overall in NJ for the year, #3 in Group II, and an easy #1 in our Sectional, CJ II. 


K. MacGillis    1:01.48

Devlin               :59.83

L. Orr (Fr)         :58.84 PR(R)

G. Hofferber     :59.40

27th/35        3:59.55 SB, RFH Record

Well done, girls……

The Coaches