In order to appreciate Friday's record-breaking performance in the 4x1500-meter relay at the Jim Mitchell Invitational at The Armory, it's worth knowing where North Shore (Glen Head, N.Y.) spent the past two weeks.
Down. Disappointed. Upset. Those are the words coach Neal Levy and senior Brianna Nerud used to describe the mood coming back home from a ninth-place finish at the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 4.
"We wanted to do a lot better than that," Nerud said. "We were down. We just wanted to move on and use it as motivation."
The girls got their chance at Friday's low-key meet, where North Shore stripped 25 seconds off the national record held by Greenwich (Greenwich, N.Y.). North Shore clocked 18:50.91 with a lineup that included the team's top four at NXN -- Elizabeth Caldwell, Jessica Donohue, Samantha Nadel and Nerud.
All four ran well as North Shore demolished the record. The splits: Caldwell 4:52.7, Donohue 4:55.7, Nadel 4:29.8 and Nerud 4:32.7. According to stat keepers at The Armory, it is the 160th national high school record to be set in the building.
Last spring, North Shore was primed to take a stab at the U.S. record in the 4xmile relay but a flight delay prevented the team from getting to the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in time to compete. Instead, the girls entered the distance medley relay and broke the national record -- yet finished behind Harvard-Westlake of California and Fayetteville-Manlius of New York.
North Shore had a podium finish in its sights in Portland but had an off day and slid backward.
"Ever since we got back from Oregon we haven't talked about goals," Levy said. "There's been a quietness and a feeling of going back to business. (NXN) was a letdown for us."
Every girl on the team took off at least five days before returning to focus on the indoor track season. They were eager to remove the bitter taste from their mouths.
Nerud, the anchor, didn't know whether her team was on record pace as she took the baton but it seemed to her as if her three teammates had all run well.
"Everyone looked really good," she said. "The last couple laps my coach was telling me what I could shoot for. That motivated me so much."
And suddenly, North Shore was defined by three new words: Up. Confident. Proud.
"We finally showed what we can do," Nerud said. "Everyone was really excited, really happy."
Also Friday, Bronxville (Bronxville, N.Y.) sophomore Mary Cain ran 2:49.58 in the 1,000 meters -- indicating that she is picking up right where she left off as a freshman. She was a tenth of a second off Brittany Sheffey's national sophomore record and moved to No. 14 all-time in the event. Sheffey ran 2:49.48 for Bellport NY in 2005.
The New York state record remains Tameika Grizzle's 2:48.44 from 1996 for George Washington (New York, N.Y.).