While her fellow teammates were enjoying their summers, Lexy Halladay kept running.
The season didn’t end for the Mountain View High track star like it did for most runners following the 5A State Track and Field Championships on May 20. Halladay didn’t get done until nearly a month later.
The freshman, however, still had plenty of excitement to start her summer. She capped a remarkable inaugural high school season with two top-three finishes at national invitational meets and broke a 44-year-old record previously held by a former Olympian.
“It was very hectic,” Halladay said. “I actually had to miss the last couple days of school, so I had to make up finals. But it was fine — a good way to start my summer off for sure.”
Halladay didn’t celebrate for long after winning three state titles at Dona Larsen Park in Boise. She couldn’t bask in setting state records in her wins in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs or go out and celebrate for long with the rest of her 4x400-meter relay team, where she ran the anchor leg.
Halladay had to get back to work.
Just 12 days later on June 2 was the adidas Girls’ Dream Mile in Somerville, Massachusetts, about five miles outside of Boston. Halladay had earned the invite in April with her runner-up finish in the girl’s elite invitational mile at the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays. There she ran a time of 4 minutes, 46.35 seconds, which at the time was the second-fastest time in the country.
But unlike the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays, nobody beat Halladay this time. At the adidas Girls’ Dream Mile, she was fourth entering the last quarter mile but quickly moved up to second with 200 meters to go before taking the lead for good coming out of the final turn and into the straightaway for home.
She held on to win a sprint to the finish, collapsing to the ground from sheer exhaustion moments after crossing the line in first place. Halladay, though, still had just enough energy to crack a big smile to the TV broadcast cameraman following her victory.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘Man, that sucked,’” Halladay said with a laugh. “But then I looked up and the guy with the camera was right there in front of me and then it really hit me.”
Better yet, Halladay’s winning time of 4:41.80 was not only the new fastest time in the nation in the girls’ mile and the 27th fastest time in U.S. high school history according to MileSplit.com, but broke Mary Decker Slaney’s national freshman mile record time of 4:42.0 that she set in 1973. Decker Slaney was a three-time Olympian and a two-time world champion.
“Who does that?” Mountain View track coach Tracy Harris said. “Mary Decker is probably the most famous female American distance runner ever. Sometimes I sit back and I still can’t believe it. She had one of the best freshman seasons in the history of any ninth-grader.”
Two weeks after making history, Halladay closed her season out at the Brooks PR Invitational on June 17 in Seattle. The race didn’t go as well as Halladay had hoped.
The 15-year-old’s time was nearly three seconds slower than it was at adidas. But Halladay, who was the only freshman in the race, still found her way onto the podium with a third-place finish, clocking a time of 4 minutes, 44.24 seconds — nearly a half a second back of the winner.
“Coming from adidas to Brooks, you can only have so many races where you can have the perfect race,” Halladay said. “I knew going in I had a target on my back.
“My goal was just to go in and run smart and hard, and that’s what I did and that’s all I can ask for. It was still a good race for me and something I’ll learn from.”
Halladay’s freshman season total haul included 25 first-place finishes in track to go along with a state title at the 5A State Cross Country Championships in October. The results earned her the Idaho Gatorade Girls Cross Country and Girls Track and Field Athletes of the Year awards. She is one of only seven girls in the nation this season to win both awards.
“I’m extremely proud of her,” sophomore Camryn Pritchard said. “I knew she would be an amazing runner before she even came into high school, but she still blew me away.
“Watching her improve has been so fun. She’s one of the strongest and hardworking people I know. I’m excited to see how the next three years go for her.”
With her season now officially over, Halladay is finally getting a break — sort of. She’s doing some light running before resuming training full-time in the coming weeks in preparation for her soon-to-be sophomore cross-country season.
Halladay also has a Nike Elite Camp on July 19-23 at the Nike headquarters in Portland. The camp typically doesn’t invite freshman, and she’ll be one of only 20 runners from around the nation, 10 boys and 10 girls, invited to take part.
She actually won’t be getting much of a summer break. And that’s fine with her.
“To me it’s fun to be able to keep running,” Halladay said. “I know in the end it will definitely be worth it.”