FALMOUTH — Just two months after a yet another stellar high school track season, Tewksbury Memorial High School junior Makayla Paige continued right where she left off from the spring season, when she competed and won, the 10th annual Tommy Cochary Elite High School Mile race held on Saturday.
With about a half lap to go, Paige came from behind and edged out Concord-Carlisle's Emma Kerimo with an incredible ten second personal record time of 5:06.05, just ahead of Kerimo, who was clocked at 5:06.83.
"The longest lap of them all was definitely the last," said Paige. "I tried to start picking it up with 400-meters left. Slowly the gap had closed, each step felt heavier than the last. But then we were coming down the final straightaway neck-and-neck. I heard what Peter Molloy, one of my coaches, told me my last race before high school. It was 'the faster your arms move, the faster your legs move'. So I just tried to move my arms faster and faster towards the finish line. In the end I was mostly proud of how I mentally took on the race before and during it."
The Cochary Elite High School Mile started in 2010 and is named after Tommy Cochary, who was killed by a Drunk Driver back in 1990. The student-athletes who participated in this elite event, are selected through "an application process that considers character and evidence of making smart choices in their lives."
Paige beat out eight out prestigious runners from across the state including Kerimo and Nora Johnson of Concord-Carlisle, the incredible Kate Connolly of Natick, as well as Simmer Bejaramo of Silver Lake, Alison Gillooly of Nashoba, Isabel May of Northfield Mount Hermon, Danna Ofek of Lexington, Pria Parker of Hingham and Bethany Steiner of Millis.
"The race went better than what I was expecting,” said Paige. “My plan going into the race was to try to stay with the front group or person as long as possible and hope that I had something at the end. But the another part of the plan was to go out slow, not like I was running an 800.”
Kerimo had the lead throughout most of the race, including running a 2:38 time with two laps to go.
“The first lap felt really well, but right before we hit the start to the second lap Emma Kerimo, who is an amazing runner, started to quicken the pace rapidly,” said Paige. “Once that happened I told myself just to stay as close as possible, and the back straight away of that lap my mom called to me to try to close the gap since I was letting Emma open too big of a gap. Quickly though, the third lap hit and at this point I realized just how long a 400 meter track was. It took all my concentration to not let myself start to fall back.”
Paige didn't fall back and ended up winning and for taking the title, she won a $2,500 grant awarded to TMHS to be used for new athletic equipment or after school wellness activities.
Taking the title and the grant certainly were nice, but Paige said competing against eight very friendly girls is something she'll always remember.
“All the runners that were in the race are all very talented and keeping calm before was basically impossible,” she said. “But not only were they all talented, all of them were very kind and were willing to talk to everyone.”