FALMOUTH, MA (August 17, 2019) – On a picture perfect Cape Cod evening, Josh Thompson and Cory McGee kicked their way to victories in the Aetna Falmouth Elite Mile, while Tyler Brogan and Makayla Paige won the Tommy Cochary High School Mile.
The events were part of the Falmouth Track Festival, and represent the final elite and high school miles to be run on the James T. Kalperis Track at Falmouth High School before it is resurfaced, thanks to a grant from Falmouth Road Race, Inc.
In the elite race, both Thompson and McGee used moves in the final lap to charge to the front and secure the $3,500 first-place prize. The Aetna Falmouth Elite Mile is the fourth stop of the 2019 Bring Back the Mile Grand Prix Tour.
McGee, a Team New Balance athlete living and training in Boulder, CO, sat patiently in fourth among the pack of seven women as they passed halfway in 2:18. Moving to the front was Katie Mackey, a three-time winner here, who did her best to shake up the field before hitting the bell in 3:25.
McGee was the only competitor to immediately respond to Mackey’s move, and the pair led down the backstretch on the final lap. With the roars of spectators growing in anticipation of the impending duel, McGee drew even with 200 meters to go and never looked back. She would break the tape going away in 4:29.51 to earn her first Aetna Falmouth Elite Mile crown.
“I’m so happy to be back in the Boston area,” said McGee. “This race is really one of the most exciting miles in the country. It has more history than a lot of the others and just has a really fun energy surrounding it with the [New Balance Falmouth] Road Race. I’ve been in the mix a few times but finally winning it is really fun!”
Heather Kampf passed Mackey in the final straight to take second, 4:31.24 to 4:31.69. Eleanor Fulton (4:32.39) and Dana Giordano (4:33.07) rounded out the top five.
By running under 4:31, McGee picked up an additional $1,000 in a winner’s time bonus.
Thompson, the men’s champion, also made his bid for the win in the final lap, choosing to do so with 300 meters remaining. Up until that point, Maine native Riley Masters had done all of the pacing, taking the field through three-quarters in 3:00.
With each lap, Thompson’s faith in his kick grew stronger and stronger. Masters and Craig Nowak were setting the tempo, and all Thompson had to do was decide when to move from third to first.
“I was feeling pretty confident,” said Thompson, giving credit to Masters and Nowak. “When the last lap came I knew I was going to wait until 300 meters just to be safe.”
As Thompson moved into first, David Ribich slipped into second and the pair put three meters on the field. Bearing down and opening his stride around the bend, Thompson held off the former Division II standout, 3:58.39 to 3:59.78.
“It means a lot. It gets my confidence up,” said Thompson of the victory, his first win of the 2019 Bring Back the Mile Grand Prix Tour. “I’ve struggled in the past [with injuries], and to come here and win this race, I mean, Falmouth put on a great race. This is pretty cool – I’ve never been in this type of an environment.”
Tripp Hurt was third in 4:00.57, followed by Daniel Herrera in 4:00.86.
The 2019 Tommy Cochary High School Mile also featured daring early frontrunners and strong come-from-behind victories. It also featured all top three finishers in the boys’ race breaking a meet record that had been set by one of the best high school milers in Massachusetts history.
Tyler Brogan, of Franklin High School, won the boy’s mile in 4:21.62, shattering the previous mark of 4:25.46, set by Garrett O’Toole of the Middlesex School in 2013. Winning for the girls was Makayla Paige, a Tewksbury High School junior, in 5:06.05.
The high school mile, which began in 2010 and is held as part of the Falmouth Track Festival the evening before the New Balance Falmouth Road Race, was renamed eight years ago in honor of Tommy Cochary, a young Falmouth runner who was killed in a drunk-driving accident in 1990. The road race is a huge part of the family’s life, and athletes in the mile are chosen to compete not only because they are among the best high school milers in Massachusetts but also because they embody Tommy’s spirit of an active life and fun-loving attitude, and because they have shown evidence of making smart choices in their lives.
In the boys’ race, 800-meter specialist Walpole High School senior Shane Grant set a brave early pace, turning in a 66-second first lap that already had the leaders eyeing the meet record.
Saying he was “very surprised,” Brogan immediately realized that Grant was going for it. “Once I saw that,” said Brogan, “I knew it was going to be fast.”
“It was the music, really,” said Grant, of the beat emanating from the loudspeakers. “I just really like running to music; it kind of gets me going. And all the people here – we’re not used to that.”
After going through halfway in 2:11, Grant had extended his lead to 15 meters by the bell. But coming around the third turn, Brogan – the 2019 MIAA Eastern Division 1 mile champion – began to quickly close the gap, and would cross the line in 4:21.62. Mike Griffin, the 2017 Tommy Cochary High School Mile winner, would also pass Grant in the homestretch, placing second in 4:22.16, with Grant rounding out the podium in 4:23.10.
In the girls’ mile, Emma Kerimo of Concord-Carlisle High School took off after the first lap, opening a quick 10-meter gap over Paige, with another 10 meters to the chase pack. Kerimo’s lead had stretched to nearly 20 meters before Paige began to close. On the final lap, the 2019 All-State outdoor champion at 800 meters would take the lead on the homestretch before breaking the tape in 5:06.05, Kerimo not far back in 5:06.83. Summer Bejarano, a sophomore at Silver Lake Regional High School, was third in 5:13.53.
“It hasn’t really set in yet,” said Paige of the win. “I’m mostly thinking about how much pain my legs are in.”
Brogan and Paige will each have a grant of $2,500 awarded to their school in their name to be used in a way that implements change in athletics or wellness, such as new equipment, team uniforms, or after-school wellness activities.