NEW YORK — Waverly Neer had a feeling it might take a record pace to win the women’s 5,000-meter run at the New Balance High School Indoor Track & Field Championships.
She was right.
The Culver Girls Academy’s star senior and 2010 IHSAA state cross country champion set a national high school indoor record of 16:35.15 Friday night at New York City’s famed Armory Center and still had enough gas left in the tank for a PR in the mile race Sunday.
“Before the race, my coach and dad were talking about how strong the field was, and I said it might take a national record to win,” said Neer by telephone shortly after her record-breaking effort Friday. "I’m really happy, but (knowing the other runners in the race) I guess I’m only a little surprised we ran that fast.”
"I can’t honestly put an emotion with it,” she said. "This is so surreal. I can’t believe I broke a national record and now I own it."
There were 35 runners in the field, circling a 200-meter track. Neer bided her time until 1200 meters remained, then surged to the front, claiming her first high school national championship by an eight-second margin over Florida’s Kathryn Fluehr (16:43.7) after the two dueled for much of the remaining 1800 meters.
"It was back and forth after the two of us broke off from the rest of the pack,” Neer said. “I think we both probably knew we were on record pace, and it was just a really cool battle between the two of us.”
"It was very, very exciting to see her be in the thick of things and see her take the lead in the last 800,” said CGA head track and field coach Michael Chastain.
"It was a privilege to watch her do that. She just looked so graceful.”
Feeling the aftermath of that championship run Sunday, Neer was still able to clock a personal-best 4:53.67 for an 11th place finish in the mile.
"She was feeling pretty rough but she performed well today,”said Chastain. "She didn’t break the top two, which we were disappointed in, but she ran a personal best and she ran it basically all alone."