Champ Again: Belmont’s Ellie Shea Dominate 2 Mile, 5,000M At National Indoor HS Championships

Photo: Belmont High Junior Ellie Shea breaking the tape (credit Keenan Gray/New Balance Nationals)

On her last big race just a month ago, Belmont High junior Ellie Shea traveled more than 10,000 miles to compete in the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Australia. Her latest major race was this weekend at the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championship in Brighton which is all of four miles from her Belmont home.

And whether its half way around the world or just down the street, Shea was the talk of the event: first running a historic 10th place in the U20 race in the world cross country title run while in Brighton, the 11th grader sparkled winning two national high school indoor track championship titles within 24 hours.

On Friday and Saturday, Shea – wearing her now iconic blue neon sunglasses – destroying talented fields in the 2 mile (Friday) and 5,000 meters (Saturday) by running away from some of the best high school runners in the country. And to top off the weekend, Shea stayed with the top high school miler in the country, sophomore Sadie Engelhardt of California, until the final 200 meters to finish third in the mile with a 4 minute, 40:76 second, finishing the meet as the only runner to win three individual medals at this invitational. [See the video of the race here]

In the 2 mile on Friday, Shea was off and running going clear of the others after one 200 meter lap and just increased the distance from the pack to win in 9 minutes, 49.82 seconds, more than 3/4 of a lap ahead of runner up Hanne Thomsen of California in 10:07.06. Her time was within shouting distance of the all-time US high school record (9:38.68) set by Mary Cain in Boston 10 years ago. [You can view the race here]

“My plan was not to necessarily go after [records],” said Shea in an interview after the race. “I just wanted to run a consistent pace and a consistent effort and test my fitness and have fun.”

But it was Saturday afternoon’s 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) where Shea, the defending champion, showed a dominance that’s rare in the era. Running 37 second laps to the others over 40 seconds, the race was essentially over after the second lap. From then on, Shea was running a solo race, clicking off 37/38 second laps, lapping the field twice before speeding up in the final two to break the tap in 15:46.28, [the race is here] breaking her own meet record and finishing nearly a minute ahead of second place Jolena Quarto in 16:43.18.

In her three events, Shea set personal best times. She is the leading US high school runner in the 3,000 meters, 2 mile and 5,000 meters.

Shea stated in an interview how she is able to transition from a world class cross country performance in the Australian outback to hammering a total of 6.1 miles over three days on an indoor track all within one month.

“I just trust in my training,” said Shea. “I know my training is going to set me up for whatever race I decide to do, whether it be on the track or the cross country course and however long it may be. So as long as I trust in my training, I know I’m prepared. So I was confident that I would be able to switch back to track quickly after traveling halfway around the world.”

New York City Is Her Stage: Ellie Shea Captures Indoor 5K National Title During Record-Setting Weekend

Photo: Belmont’s Ellie Shea set the second fastest indoor 5,000 meters by a high school student in history at the New Balance National Indoor Championships on Saturday, March 12.(Credit: John Nepolian, New Balance National Indoor)

One of the popular activities out-of-towners do in New York City is to head down to Broadway to take in a show.

This past weekend in NYC, Belmont’s Ellie Shea WAS the show. And the stage she starred on was The Armory’s New Balance Track & Field Center in upper Manhattan.

“Recognize this face?,” shouted the overexcited announcer introducing the Belmont High School sophomore before her third race in as many days at the New Balance National Indoor High School Championships held from March 11 to 13. “She’s back!”

Credit: John Nepolian

The Sunday afternoon race was the third time Ellie was racing at the premier high school competition, the only one of the top five runners in the race who ran more than just the mile. And despite running five miles on the boards over the first two days, all in world-class times for a 16-year-old, Shea did not disappoint when the gun went off.

In a dominating series of performances, Shea put her stamp on the national showcase indoor track meet:

  • On Saturday, Ellie destroyed a top-ranked field to win the 5,000 meters indoor title in 15 minutes, 49.47 seconds, a personal best by 20 seconds. She didn’t just break the previous 5K record ever run by a high schooler in the Amory, she took an baseball bat to it, lowering the existing mark by six seconds. She now holds the second best time by a high schooler in history. Shea is the current national 5,000 meter high school title-holder both indoors and outdoors. The race can be seen here:
  • Friday, Shea finished second to Texas senior Natalie Cook – who won the Eastbay National Cross Country Championship in December – in the two mile. Her time of 9:49.2 broke Olympic bronze medalist Lynn Jennings’ Massachusetts record from 1978 by 18 seconds and Katelyn Touhy’s sophomore national record by 6 seconds. Her “enroute” 3,000 meter time – runners are clocked passing that distance during the two mile – of 9:13.4 was just above her PR of 9:08.54 set at Boston University in February. Shea is currently the world’s second fastest female under 18 years old in the indoors 3,000 and fourth in the 1,500, according to the iaaf.
  • In her final race, Shea finished fourth in the mile in 4:41 flat nearly catching senior Riley Steward of Colorado who out leaned the on rushing 16 year old. Her enroute mark for the classic 1,500 meter distance was 4:22.9. She ran her PR of 4:21.42 in the Boston University race where she set her mile best of 4:40.01.

In an interview after her record-breaking 5,000, Shea said her personal goal coming to the meet was “to get as many learning experiences as possible, to race a bunch of different events from 800 [meters] all the way to 5K. And I’m happy that I’ve now pretty much done all the events.”

Belmont High Frosh Jumper Sets Marks at National, State Track Meets

Photo: Belmont High freshman Anoush Krafian at the New Balance National Indoor on Friday, March 13. (photo, Don Rich.)

Anoush Krafian stands 5 feet, 3 inches tall. And she can jump higher than her own height. That’s special for any high school athlete. Did I mention that Krafian just turned 15? That’s extra special.

In the past month, the Belmont High School ninth grader has been showing her soaring and running talent in state-wide and, this past week, at national competitions.

On Friday, March 13, Krafian jumped 5-feet, 2 1/2 inches to place 14th in a field of 27 of the nation’s top freshmen at the New Balance National Indoor for High School Track & Field in New York City.

“It’s really exciting. I’m proud of myself and what I’ve done,” Krafian said earlier in the month when her name was floating around as possibly heading to the nationals.

In the Massachusetts Div. 3 state championships on Feb. 13, Krafian equaled her personal best with a 5’4″ effort in the high jump, equaling the best height of the meet and only placing second only due to the number of extra jumps she took. In the 55-meter hurdles, the Marauder ran 9.05 seconds to place fifth in a field stacked with seniors and juniors.

While she didn’t have a great All-States meet the next week, Krafian holds the distinction of being the only 9th graders competing in both the high jump and hurdles out of two dozen competitors from across the state. Statewide, she is nearly three-quarters of a second faster than the next freshman in the hurdles – that’s close to a lifetime in the sprints – and has jumped two-inches higher than the second-best ninth-grader.

Yet her best event is one that isn’t one most people know. On Feb. 23, Krafian finished 7th in the Massachusetts State Track Coaches’ Pentathlon, a two-day, five-event competition in which competitors are tested in the 55-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put and 800 meter run. Her total of 2,774 points made her the only non-senior in the top ten, and nearly 900 points better than the next freshman.

“I’ve done the pentathlon a lot with my club, so I’m used to it. My three best events are the high jump, hurdles and long jump, so I’ve got three of the events down,” Krafian said.

Krafian is no overnight sensation, having been a long-time member of the Waltham Track Club and earning the title of Massachusetts Middle School state track champion in the high jump and hurdles in 7th grade. She missed defending her titles last spring due to a stress fracture in her back.

“I played soccer, basketball and track, a lot of everything. When I got older, I narrowed it down to just track because those are my strengths,” she said.

Krafian had some adjustments to make running for a high school program.

“High school is different than middle school because here it’s intense, up to an hour-and-a-half practice each day and meets every week,” she said. “I had a slow start, I was just getting into it, but now I’m where I want to be.”

Krafian’s goals at Belmont is to win an all-states meet and do well nationally. “I’ve come so far, and I have just a little bit more to go,” she said.

And there is no rest for the weary; Krafian first day of spring practice starts on Monday, March 16.