Seeded first in the 600 meters, Bishop Guertin High School of Nashua senior Molly McCabe had a strategy in place entering Saturday's New England Interscholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships.
That went out the window when she saw her first split for the three-lap race on the oval of Boston's Reggie Lewis Center.
"I went out a little too fast," McCabe said. "My first split was between 28 and 29 seconds. The plan was to run it in 30."
Her opening pace impossible to maintain, McCabe lost the lead to the race's second-seeded runner, Amy Piccolo of Ursuline Academy (Dedham, Mass.), in the final lap, but then found just enough of push to outkick her rival by the smallest of margins. McCabe's time of exactly 1 minute 32 seconds was one-hundredth of a second faster than Piccolo's and set a New Hampshire record.
"In the last 100 meters, Amy and I just battled it out, and I practically threw myself across the finish line," McCabe said. "I leaned just enough to beat her."
That lean helped her take 1.17 seconds off the previous New Hampshire record, set by another Bishop Guertin runner, Cecilia Barowski, in 2010. McCabe's time also was 1.49 seconds faster than what she recorded in winning the state Division I championship on Feb. 2.
"You always want to have a plan and try to stick to it, but I'll take this," a smiling McCabe said of the result. "I won the race and set a PR, so obviously I can't complain."
The Brookline resident also credited some good fortune, saying that Piccolo's move to overtake her came at an opportune time.
"I'm almost glad she passed me when she did," McCabe said. "Had she waited a little bit longer, she would have passed me on my blind side on the turn, and I might not have seen her until it was too late."
McCabe, who will do her running for Boston College next academic year, is one of eight athletes from New Hampshire who earned individual All-New England honors with a top-six finish. The others are Bedford's Anika Hibbard, who took second in the girls' high jump (5 feet, 5 inches); Bedford's Keelan McCoole, who finished second in the boys' high jump (6-07.00); Lebanon's John Cioffredi, who was fifth in the boys' high jump (6-05.00); Exeter's Shannon Murdock, who ran fourth in the girls' mile (4:58.41); Nashua North's Zakari Jenkins, who placed fifth in the boys' 300-meter dash (35.45); Concord's George Feliz, who finished sixth in the boys' 55-meter hurdles (7.83); and Merrimack Valley of Penacook's Nancy Taban, who was fourth in the girls' 55-meter hurdles (8.53).
In addition, the Nashua North boys' 4x200-meter relay team placed sixth in 1:32.98. Jenkins, William Goulding, Michael Pagan and Chad Saint-Amant each ran a leg on that relay team.