WESTON — It’s no secret that Lynnfield High senior and Boston College commit Kate Mitchell is one of the best distance runners in the state, and, with a ninth place finish at the Indoor New Balance Indoor Nationals this past March, one of the best high school runners in the nation.
Saturday night, Mitchell proved she can also nail it when it comes to sprinting.
In her first time running the event, Mitchell blazed her way to first place in the 400 at the Weston Twilight Invitational Meet at Regis College and Weston High School.
A week before the race, Mitchell was asked what she needed to do to have a shot to win the race. Her answer?
“Run, really, really fast,” she said.
That game plan was spot on, as Mitchell finished in 57.73 to win by more than a second and a half over Peabody freshman Jolene Murphy, who finished second in 59.42.
“I had never run a 400 before, not even in practice, so I just went out fast by my standards, in 27 (seconds) and tried to hold on the best I could,” she said. I typically try to stay patient and run a strategic race, but in the 400, you don’t have time to do that because by the time you make your move, the race is over. I was really happy, though to run a sub-60, that was my goal.”
Mitchell is known for being an intelligent and patient distance runner, sticking to her splits like clockwork, then, picking off runners one by one down the final stretches.
This race was no different.
“Despite going out in 27, I was last the last runner to hit the 200 mark, but I gained the lead coming around the final turn,” said Mitchell. “I knew the Peabody girl was really fast and she would go out fast early. It helped that I was in lane three, because with the staggered start, I could the people ahead of me because they were on the outer lanes. Being able to see them go out in front of me was definitely a big help.”
Mitchell said she went into the race with zero expectations and with her sudden success in the 400, doesn’t know at this point what she will run in the state postseason meets.
“I was a little bit more nervous than usual as I know what to expect in the 800, 1,000 and mile, but this race gave me a lot of confidence in any event knowing that I have the ability to run a 57, that will help me shave down my splits in the 800 for sure,” she said. “Yesterday, because I had no baseline in the event, I just had to do what my coaches told me to do. No doubt, this meet was the coolest meet of the year, especially running under the lights.”