Comes word that Mary Cain is no longer running for Bronxville. A junior, she is now under the tutelage of Alberto Salazar, who is coaching her from Oregon with a local runner acting as the on-the-site presence.
While she could get away with running on her own for track, there was going to be problems when cross started, given that it is a team sport. Shortly before the season began, the boys’ coaches who had coached her in track quit as coaches.
Although being compelled to go back with the girls’ coach might have succeeded in getting everyone back on the same page and, as I’ve noted before, gotten her to be part of the high-school team experience, it was not be. It was never to be.
Bronxville’s girls have a long history of excellence, under coach Jim Mitchell (who, strangely, is referred to as “Mitchell” by girls on the team and, not so strangely, as “Mitch” by parents) and that tradition will continue. I think everyone is relieved that the curtain has closed on this drama.
Cain is not leaving the school, where she’s a straight-A student I’ve heard described as “scary smart”. But Wesley Crusher-like will be taking her talents elsewhere.
We wouldn’t think twice about an exceptional musician going into the City after school for lessons and not playing with the school band. Should a runner be any different. On LetsRun there was a thread in which several posters said that excellence requires a professional approach.
I differ on two fronts. First, the US has a plethora of world-class middle-distance runners, presumably who made it without the professional-touch in high school.
Second, as I said when I called Cain’s father’s statement that she needed to leave Jim Mitchell because his daughter “‘needed that individualized attention'” BS, she got to the extraordinary level she’s achieved with the coaching she already had, the outstanding freshman track and sophomore cross season under Mitchell and the outstanding outdoor track sophomore season under Ed Stickles and Julio German. Now Salazar is going to fix form-defects he sees with her, although I think she has the best form this side of Bernard Lagat.
There was concern about having Cain run a normal HSer’s schedule. She had to run a certain number of XC races to qualify for the States, but she skipped the season’s first because, as her-then coach Mitchell said, she had a very long track season so he wasn’t hurrying her. Plus she was winning the races she did run by quite a ways. Putting it all together, my assumption was that even is she ran races, her training would have been geared toward spring track. She’d likely win races as a workout.
Who knows. In the end, this is best at least for Bronxville. Whether it is best for Mary Cain remains to be seen. She’s now Salazar’s new project.