Dr.J. on Running


Molly Huddle

Breaks Louks Record

Published May 13, 2002 in The Syracuse Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Molly Huddle came to White Plains with a modest goal of improving on her poor performance earlier in the week. Her first fitness test on the return trip from injury disappointed her. However, what she achieved last Saturday exceeded expectations, as she shattered the 2-mile meet record at the Glen D. Loucks Memorial Games.

A senior at Notre Dame high school in Elmira, Huddle played basketball since fourth grade. In high school, she played soccer in the fall and ran track in the spring. Concerned with the high risk of injury from ball games, Huddle skipped soccer and basketball this year, leading to her first cross-country State championship title.

A self-described quiet person, Huddle enjoyed the loneliness of the leader in most of her races. Recent performances of 3,000 meters in 9 minutes 36 seconds and 1,500 meters in 4 minutes 30 seconds earned her national rankings at both distances. Alas, an irritated illiotibial band and a sore Achilles tendon dashed a perfect season.

As Huddle nursed her leg with time off and ice, she watched her fitness level slip. She took much of the past month off running, and ran short and easy when she did. Last Monday's dual meet offered her a grim sense of her fading fitness level, or so she thought.

The largest track meet at an American high school, the Loucks Games celebrated their thirty fifth edition last weekend under sunny skies. Despite a variable wind, the cool temperatures made for good racing condition. Huddle planned to run both the 3,200 meter race on Friday and the 1,600-meter race on Saturday.

Friday's race started fast from the gun, and Huddle quickly found herself in a familiar position, alone in the lead. The footsteps of the chase pack faded with every lap, as she reached the halfway point in 5 minutes 4 seconds. She felt good, and focused on running from split to split.

With 800 meters remaining, Huddle had built a hundred-meter lead over her pursuers. The outcome of the race was settled barring an accident. However, the meet record was in jeopardy. The sparse crowd rose to their feet as their brains raced to compute the necessary splits. Coaches yelled meaningless numbers. Parents watched in agony. Huddled glided emotionlessly.

When Huddle crossed the finish line, her time of 10 minutes 14.63 seconds shattered Michelle Wale's old meet record of 10:31.97 by over 17 seconds. She beamed in victory.

Beyond the Sate and National championships in June, Huddle plans to study Biology and "run three seasons" at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.. We await her Irish debut at the BIG EAST Indoor Championships at the Carrier Dome next February.

© 2002 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Syracuse Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@i2sports.com.