Within An Hour, Belmont’s Ellie Shea Grabs A Pair Of U20 National Track Titles

Photo: Belmont Ellie Shea doing what Ellie Shea does: win the 3000-meter at the U20 Nationals

An hour after running away from the field to win the 1500 meters national title, Belmont’s Ellie Shea decided, why not add the 3000-meter crown to her weekend trip to Eugene, Oregon?

Ten minutes later, the 17-year-old raising Belmont High School senior held off a former teammate and will be coming home with a pair of national titles in an impressive 60 minutes of racing at the 2023 USATF U20 Outdoor National Championships on Sunday, July 9.

The Emerging Elite Club runner is one of only three double winners at the US Outdoor Nationals, along with JaiCieonna Gero-Holt, who won the heptathlon and high jump, and Christian Miller, who took the sprint double, winning the men’s 100 and 200.

With the victory in the 1500 meters, Shea qualifies to represent the US in the upcoming Pan American U20 Championships held in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Aug. 4-6. If she competes, it will be the second time Shea will represent the USA on the international stage, having been a member of the U20 women’s team at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in February, coming home from Australia with a bronze medal.

Shea started her week on Thursday, July 6, running with the pros in the first heat of the Women’s National 1500 meters, a race – which included 800 meters world champion Athing Mu – the recent 11th grader led through 800 meters. But the field soon showed its class in the final 300 meters as Ellie finished 11th in 4:20.99.

While Shea was scheduled to run four events, she finally took to the track at Hayward Field in the 1500 meters against two newly-minted champions, Angelina Napoleon (3000-meter steeplechase) and Sophia Gorriaran (800 meters) from the Moses Brown School in RI. But it wasn’t a race as it followed the leader with Shea out in front from the start, stretching her lead to five seconds at the midway point over Gorriaran and Napoleon. Shea maintained her 30-meter lead until the final 300 when Harvard commit Gorriaran used her outstanding sprint speed to eat into the lead but came up short as Shea broke the tape in 4:19:58.

About an hour later, Shea would change tactics and tuck into the lead pack in the 3000 meters, which included University of Michigan’s Rylee Tolson and Zariel Macchia, a rising high school junior from New York who was Shea’s teammate on the history-making US team at the World Cross Country Championships.

With 600 meters remaining, Tolson upped the tempo. In the curve after the bell, Shea passed on the outside and held off the collegian coming off the backstretch. With Tolson fading, Macchia charged down the final straight, cutting into Shea’s lead with every stride but could not catch the Belmontian, who finished in 9:46.56 to win by a second.

As one of the commentators on the USATF.TV webcast said about Shea on Sunday: “That is a long day but a good one.”

Belmont Pair Leave Their Mark Over Two Miles On The Track

Photo: Belmont High student and Emerging Elite athlete Ellie Shea (Credit: Sage Zipeto, Brooks PRI)

Two young Belmont track runners – one already well-established and the other a newcomer breaking into the spotlight – came home with silverware over the same distance captured at separate national competitions earlier this month.

And this coming weekend, Ellie Shea and Dana Lehr could be competing against each other for the first time at the National Championships for athletes under 20 years old.

Shea continues her impressive track results, winning the two-mile at the annual Brooks PR Invitational (PRI) on June 14. Toeing the line against a deep field of speedy athletes, Shea was at the top of her game having smashed her PR in the mile two weeks earlier with a 4 minute, 37.22 second, the fastest mile ever by a Massachusetts high schooler (although it is not an official record as it was set in a mixed gender race).

Unlike some of her previous distance races where she would run away from the competition, Shea – wearing her trademark cobalt-blue sunglasses – would have all she could handle with a familiar opponent, senior Leah Stephens from Maryland (they battled each other at the Champs National Cross Country Championships in December) who ran shoulder to shoulder with the Emerging Elite athlete as they were running steady laps.

On the final of eight laps, Shea and Stephens were stride for stride as the Florida State-bound runner held off Shea on the final corner. But at the head of the home stretch, Shea increased the pace to pass Stephens breaking the finishing tape in 9:53.36 to be the fastest high school two-miler in the US this year.

See Ellie’s outstanding race here

Unlike the past two years, Shea would skip racing at the annual Nike Outdoor Nationals for high school student in Eugene, Oregon that weekend, leaving the stage to her Emerging Elite teammate Lehr.

At the New Balance National Outdoor Championships in Philadelphia, the Belmont High 10th grader ran in the Rising Star meet, highlighting the nation’s up-and-coming tracksters on June 14. Running in the first of two heats at the historic Franklin Field track, Lehr would benefit from the brave pace setting of junior Reece Landis of Ohio. Almost from the start, the race was a three runner affair with Landis out front followed by Lehr and junior Maggie Powers from Indiana in that order.

Landis would slowly stretch her lead in the second mile where a the bell lap she appeared to have shed her pursuers with nearly a 10 meters lead. But Lehr would erase the 1.2 second deficit using her impressive 800-meter speed – she won the MIAA Division 2 title in May – to marshal a 74 second final lap to take the heat in 10:41.59, winning by five seconds over Landis as the Belmontian lowering her 2-mile PR by a minute and five seconds since February. And when the second heat developed into a tactical contest, Lehr’s time stood up to take the title.

You want to see Lehr’s race? Here it is

After winning her contest, Lehr decided – why not – to jump into the Championship Mile, placing 6th in her heat and 33rd overall in 4:57.88, just a second off her PR.

With her time, Lehr made the qualifying time for the 3000 and 5,000 meters at the USATF U20 Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene taking place on July 6-9. And with Shea also qualifying in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meters – just a reminder: since it has been a very long season for both young women, there is no guarantee either will attend – it could be big couple of days for these residents.

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.”

Belmont’s Shea Top Ten At U20 Cross Country World Championships, Leads US To Historic First-Ever Medal

Photo: Belmont’s Ellie Shea running through the vineyard section of the course at the World Athletics U20 Woman’s Cross Country Championships held in Bathurst, AUS on Feb. 18, 2023

Running in her first major international competition representing the United States, Belmont’s Ellie Shea finished a historic 10th place at the World Athletics U20 Women’s Cross Country Championships held Saturday, Feb. 18, in Bathurst, Australia.

The 17-year-old Belmont High junior’s result is the highest placement by an American runner in 32 years since Melody Fairchild came in third in 1991. The Emerging Elites runner led the US to a bronze medal in the team competition, the first-ever medal by a US U20 women’s squad in the 28 times the race has been run.

“I feel great. It was really fun. It was really hard. I fell in the mud and got right back up and kept going,” said Shea in an after race interview with LetsRun.com. “Getting the chance to race the best in the world is something I don’t take for granted.”

View a video of an interview of Shea after the race by the website LetsRun.com .

Held in the infield of the Mount Panorama motor racing circuit in sweltering conditions that reached 97 degrees, Shea said her strategy for the 6 kilometer race was to start conservatively and pick off runners as the race progressed.

As she mentioned, Shea’s race was nearly upended in the first minutes when she nearly went down transversing the course’s “billabong” – the Aussie term for a stagnant muddy water crossing – with her left leg sliding out from under her, forcing her to place her hands in the mock to stay upright.

“I was not expecting it to be that sloppy. I never run through mud like that before, but I got back up as quick as I can and let that adrenaline take me,” said Shea.

It took her a bit of time to catch up with the chase pack on the challenging hilly course that the International Broadcast commentator Steve Moneghetti called “the most difficult course” he saw in the past 20 years of the competition.

Predictably, in the team competition Ethiopia won gold (15 points) while Kenya scored silver (22). More surprisingly the United States snared the bronze (54), led by Ellie Shea.

Louise Evans for World Athletics

Despite the near mishap, Shea began stalking the lead pack occupied with favorites of Ethiopians and Kenyans, passing runners through the race including a trio of Ugandans who made up one of the favorite squads.

Racing with Irene Riggs, the national junior cross county champ from West Virginia, for most of the event, Shea said the race was going to be “a battle of the toughest” so she was prepared to put her head down “and grind it out.” In 20th place after her trip in the mud, Shea was 15th after one kilometer only 6 seconds off the lead pack, 13th by 2 kilometer only 15 seconds out of first.

As the race entered its final stage, Shea – wearing her trademark cobalt blue sunglasses – remained within the camera’s range with the leading group. In the final up/down hill portion, Shea passed Ethiopia’s Melknat Wudu racing 10 seconds faster down the home stretch to break the log jam of the two leading countries and secure a top ten finish. Shea crossed the line in 21 minutes, 48 seconds, 55 seconds behind winner Senayet Getachew of Ethiopia.

The brave racing from Shea, Riggs (12th in 22:03), 2022 National Cross Country champion Karrie Baloga (13th, 22:12) and Zariel Macchia (19th, 23:05) powered the US to its first medal at the worlds.

“Team USA really showed up,” said Shea.

Ellie Shea (second from left) earn team bronze for the U.S. (photo credit: Fast Women)

The experience traveling 10,000 miles and 16 time zones from home – and now another 10,000 miles on a 24 hour plus flight back to Belmont – to come away with a world championship medal was a thrill, said Shea.

“It’s my first time internationally to race. It’s my second time out of the country ever, so it was awesome,” said Shea, who traveled with her mother, Belmont teacher Jamie Shea.

“I could hear her,” said Shea of her mother during the race. “It was awesome.”

Ellie’s Midnight Run: Belmont High’s Shea Ventures To The Land Down Under To Race In World U20 XC Championships

Photo: Belmont’s Ellie Shea will be racing 10,000 miles from home Saturday in a land down under.

What are you doing over the February school break? Belmont High junior Ellie Shea will be flying 10,000 miles (think of the air miles!) over 24 hours to take part in a race that takes 17 minutes to run.

Shea will be wearing the USA vest as she toes the line at the World Athletic Cross Country Championships in the outback town of Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia at around midnight Saturday, Feb. 18, Belmont time. Shea will be running in the Under-20 race competing against 72 of the world’s best young runners from 19 countries.

The two-time national high school 5,000-meter champion indoors and outdoors on the track joins a squad made up of mostly high schoolers who will take on the 6K (3.73 miles) loop course located in the infield of the Mount Panorama Circuit, which will include tire obstacles, a trip through a vineyard, and a mud field. The 17-year-old earned her spot on the team by placing second at the USATF U20 Championships in Richmond, VA in mid-January. Shea, who runs for the Emerging Elites club, finished second in December’s Champs Sports High School Cross Country Championships National Finals to her U20 teammate Karrie Baloga.

One of five races, the junior women’s race is scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m. or 1610 UTC. With Bathurst 16 hours ahead of Boston, Shea’s race will take off just after midnight on Saturday. Hopefully, Belmont will be able to watch the race live by going to the World Athletics YouTube and Facebook channels. The race will be carried live on Peacock, NBC’s streaming channel noted in the US for carrying live matches of England’s Premier League.

Australia’s oldest inland European settlement, Bathurst is three hours due west from Sydney on the expansive plains just beyond the Blue Mountain Range. The town is well-known for the aforementioned motor racing track and as a designated spot for tourism by Australians.

The weather forecast for Saturday’s race is clear skies and temperatures in the low-to-mid 90s which is not the environs that would lead one to believe there will be optimum performances.

So chookas on the big race, Ellie.

BHS Ellie Shea Takes Second In Champs National HS X-C Championship [VIDEO]

Photo: Belmont High’s Ellie Shea finishing second in the credit: (Credit: Photorun for Champs Sports Cross Country)

Belmont High junior Ellie Shea turned last year’s DNF (Did Not Finish) into an impressive second place finish at the 43rd Champs Sports Cross Country Championships National Finals held Saturday, Dec. 10 , at Morley Field at Balboa Park in San Diego.

Racing in bright morning sunshine with temperatures in the mid-50s, Shea – wearing her trademark sunglasses – was dropped by Karrie Baloga of New Winchester, NY at the final hill on the 5,000 meter course to take the runner’s up position. The result was a reversal of the Northeast Regional race two weeks previous which Shea beat Baloga by 12 seconds.

Shea was running in only her third cross country race of the year coming a week after starting her indoor season for Emerging Elites running club racing over 3,000 meters against mostly professional runners in 9:10. Shea is the defending 5,000 meter national high school indoor track champion and won the 2021 national 5,000 meter outdoor high school championship where she smashed the freshman record by half a minute.

Baloga, a senior from Cornwall Central High School, controlled the early pace across the first loop leading through the mile with a swift 5:17.3 split. At the 1.5 mile mark, the lead group was reduced to four as Baloga, Shea, and seniors Paityn Noe from Huxley, Iowa and Ciara O’Shea of Richmond, Ky.

Quickly O’Shea was dropped and it was the last three who would all shared the lead several times during the remained of the race. Shea took the group through the two-mile mark with a split time of 10:55.4.

The trio ran within strides of each other until the steep uphill/downhill stretch that looms in the final half mile. From there it was all Baloga, who pulled away capping off one of the most competitive girls’ races in recent memory. Shea would dip under 17 minutes crossing the finish line in 16:55.1, six seconds ahead of Noe in 17:01.5. Rounding out the top five were sophomore Abby Faith Cheeseman (Bell Buckle, Tenn.) in fourth at 17:13.4 and O’Shea in fifth at 17:21.5. 

You can watch Shea’s impressive race below: The race begins at the one-hour mark (1:00.00) and a short post race interview with Ellie is at 1:42.30

Belmont’s Ellie Shea Heads To National XC Championships After Winning Northeast Regional

Photo: Ellie Shea (Credit: John Nepolian, New Balance National Indoor)

Last year, then-Belmont High sophomore Ellie Shea stepped off the course at the 2021 national high school cross country championship while racing with the lead pack. Something didn’t seem right, so Shea did the wise choice and decided to wait for another day.

That day comes in less than two weeks as Shea again toes the starting line at the Champs Sports Cross Country – formerly the Foot Locker Cross Country – Championships in San Diego after running away with the Northeast Regional title in historic Van Cortland Park in the Bronx on Nov. 26.

Finishing sixth in last year’s regional, Shea started with the lead pack before upping her tempo and dropping a stellar field by the two-mile mark, widening her lead over the five kilometer (3.1 miles) course before finishing in 17:10.7, a clear 100 meters over second place Karrilynn Baloga of New Windsor, NY who clocked in at 17:24.9.

With the victory, Shea returns to the championships in San Diego where she will meet the top harriers from across the country over the 5km course in Bilbao Park. The race will take place on Saturday, Dec. 10, starting at 9:15 a.m. (12:15 p.m. Eastern)

Watch the National Championship LIVE! on Facebook or Youtube or Twitter

A dual indoor (2022) and outdoor (2021) 5,000 meter high school national champion, Shea has been breaking records – from such stars as Olympian Lynn Jennings and Lesley Welch – from the mile to the 10K on the track and roads in the past six months. In June at Bentley University, Shea lowered her personal best in the 1500 meters to 4:14.35, a state and New England high school record which is the eighth fastest all-time mark in US high school history.

In October, she ran with professional runners in the Boston 10K for Women finishing ninth in 34:11, the 9th fastest 10km road performance in the world this year by women 20 years old and under and the fastest U20 10km in North America this year by nearly two minutes.

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: https://www.nbnationalsin.com/eprofile.php?event_id=1164&do=videos&video_id=323920
  • 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’s Shea To Toe The Start Line At National X-C Championship in San Diego

Photo: Ellie Shea

Belmont High sophomore Ellie Shea will be at the start of the Eastbay Cross Country Championships National Finals in less than two weeks after finishing 6th in the Northeast Regionals this past Saturday, Nov. 27.

Racing over 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in historic Van Cortland Park in the north Bronx, Shea clocked in at 17 minutes and 55.3 seconds for her top-ten performance and an automatic entry to the finals to be held on Saturday, Dec. 11 at Balboa Park’s Morley Field in San Diego, Calif.

Senior Angelina Perez from Lakeland Regional High School in New Jersey claimed the Northeast title in 17:21.5.

The Northeast finals comes four and a half months after Shea shattered the freshman 5K track record in the National High School Track Championships in Eugene, Ore. while winning the race. Showing she was primed for Saturday’s race, in October Shea placed second in the BAA Mayor’s Cup Cross Country championship in 17:12 against former collegians and professional runners including current 10,000 meter national record holder and two time Olympian Molly Huddle.

Belmont High’s only other participant in the National Finals – then known as the Footlocker Cross Country Nationals – was Victor Gras who finished 9th (earning All-American status) in 2003 after being the runner up in the Northeast race. As a junior in 2002, Gras finished 28th in the finals.

Belmont’s Ellie Shea Rocks High School Track Nationals With Stunning Record Breaking Run [VIDEO]

Photo: Ellie Shea is a really fast Belmont High runner.

Just how fast is Ellie Shea? OK, head down to Harris Field and step onto the track. Ready? Now start running. Keep a steady pace in which it will take you just about 71 seconds to complete a full lap. Whew, that took your breath away, didn’t it! But don’t stop! Do the same lap time for an additional three times around to finish in around 4 minutes and 44 seconds for the mile.

Yeah, Ellie’s is that fast. In fact, after this past 4th of July, the 15-year-old Belmont High student was the fastest freshman running the middle distances in the entire country.

“I like racing [against runners who] can push me to get a (personal record),” she told the Belmontonian in late May as she began her record-setting assault.

Shea demonstrated her growing prowess this spring and summer by clocking a series of outstanding times not just for freshmen but all high school runners including an out of nowhere 4:45.4 mile (on the roads) in her very first race against big time competition at the Adidas Boost Boston Games in May and then breaking the Massachusetts high school two-mile record running a 10:10.5 in early June.

Her half year of successes – she didn’t run cross country and participated in just a handful of “indoors” races during the Fall 2 Season – was so impressive that Shea was honored with the 2020-21 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Player of the Year award, just days before she would make a name for herself nationally on the July 4th weekend across the country in the Pacific Northwest.

Shea’s times and talent earned her way into the National Scholastic Athletic Foundation’s Outdoor Nationals – the equivalent of a high school national championships – where she had qualified to run three middle distance events (1 mile, 2 mile and 5,000 meters) on July 3 against top-ranked prep athletes at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene.

But the nationals would have to wait until after Shea raced the mile at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle on July 2, her first major national track showcase. She held her own against older and taller prep runners – Ellie’s a slightly built 5 foot-2 inches, 98 lbs. – to set yet another personal standard by nearly two seconds, a 4:43.7 which is better than any ninth grader in the country has run the distance this year.

With little sleep and after a four and a half hours drive from Seattle to Eugene, Shea decided to compete in the 5,000 meters (3.12 miles), a race she last competed in seventh grade.

“I wanted to give it a shot after running a couple of fast two miles,” she said during an interview in Eugene. “The five K is intriguing and I want to see how it goes” with the additional benefit it was being run at 9:30 a.m. during Oregon’s historic climate-influenced heat wave.

Wearing the same spiffy blue framed polarized sunglasses she wore the day before in Seattle, Ellie latched onto the prohibitive favorite, junior Caroline Wells from Winter Springs, Florida (who finished one place ahead of Shea at both the Brooks meet and the Boston Games) from the start and wouldn’t let go, maintaining a stride-distance behind Wells lap after lap.

The final stretch as Ellie Shea powers to the victory in the 5,000 meters at the 2021 Outdoor Nationals.

After the two front runners dropped Shea’s club teammate, Margot Appleton, with a mile remaining, the pair kept logging in 78-second laps until about a kilometer to run (“two-ish laps” as Ellie put it) when Shea surged past Wells. But her move nearly went terribly wrong as she stumbled after hitting the inside railing. But Shea quickly righted herself to run about two seconds per lap faster than Wells, who had no answers to her rival’s surge.

Crossing the finish line a national champion

Down the final straight, Shea powered home to a sensational 16:10.7, obliterating the 41-year-old freshman national outdoors record by 29 seconds (her time is also under the existing sophomore mark), recording the fastest time ever by a US 15 year old while running the 9th fastest high school 5,000 in history. As of July 4, Shea’s time ranks her third among women under 18 years old worldwide, trailing only two 16 year old Ethiopians.

“I just wanted to go out fast and get in a good spot and race with some really fast girls,” said Shea after the race.

The Hayward 5,000 meters was a simply a remarkable performance just in itself, made the more so coming from a young runner who seemingly came out of nowhere in the past four months, not that she hadn’t shown promise before 2021 having won the 2019 Boston Mayor’s Cup cross country event for girls’ 11-14. Since the late spring, Shea’s times have fallen faster than the value of bitcoin. Coming into the year with a mile best of 5:17.9 (recorded when she was a 7th grader in 2019), Shea took off nearly half a minute off her PR while dropping her two mile best from an 11:23 set in 2019 to her current 10:10.5 in early June.

She credits her rapid improvement on focusing on a single sport. Before the pandemic, “I did a lot of sports,” said Shea. Besides town lacrosse and soccer, there was rock climbing, tennis as well as several years as a competitive alpine and nordic skier out of New Hampshire’s Cranmore Mountain.

But as COVID-19 closed down many sports and venues, “I made [running] my priority” and was able to train more consistantly. Shea also joined Emerging Elites in the spring of 2020 which concentrates on designing training programs for young runners. When asked by track commentator Larry Rawson at the awards ceremony about her training regiment, Shea said she doesn’t run too much compared to the high mileage other do. “I like to focus more on quality over quanity.”

What gives Shea an added advantage is natural competitiveness. Shea’s mom, Jamie – a Belmont High teacher and a member of the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee – said Ellie has been “super competitive” at every venture she’s competed in. Jamie recalls when Ellie was a tee-ball player when an opponent hit the ball, she ran in from the outfield, dove into the scrum, and ended up with the ball.

“I really like pushing myself, pushing through pain … see how fast I can go and how good I can be,” Ellie said. That drive is also demonstrated in the classroom where she holds high honors. But there’s While she enjoys the sciences, “I don’t like physics so I’m excited for next year.”

In her near future, Shea is eager for a return to cross country “to have fun on trails” after being away for two years. Beyond the coming fall season, “I just want to keep racing in the big invitational meets.”

And while it’s clear that Ellie has found a home in running, the spark of another challenge for her is always there. Jamie Shea, a collegiate swimmer at Princeton who ran a 21:38 5K at the Friends of Belmont Education Apple Run in 2019, said recently Ellie saw the girls’ rugby team practice and told her “that looks exciting!”