On this day 40 years ago, Laura Whitney, despite being only an eighth-grader, set a Suffolk County record in the 2 mile run at the Suffolk County Track & Field Championships. Here is the recap from George Usher of Newsday.
Eight-Grader Sets a County Record
While Harborfields edged North Babylon, 32-30, for the team title in the Suffolk County girls’ track championships yesterday, the talk of the meet was 14-year-old Laura Whitney, an eighth-grader at the Stony Brook School, who won the two mile run in 11:01.3, bettering the county record by almost 10 seconds.
Whitney–whose older brothers, Mark and Andy, also run track at Stony Brook–defeated Ward Melville junior Regina Rogers in a race that had spectators standing and applauding. Rogers, who held the Suffolk record at 11:11, finished in 11:21.5, four seconds better than 3rd place Kathy Hyde of Bay Shore.
Erica Thuro of Glenn, who finished 5th, set a quick pace in the two mile by running out about 30 yards in front of the field. She maintained that lead for two laps, as Whitney and Rogers ran together. Whitney, Rogers, and Hyde finally pulled ahead of Thuro in the third lap and, at the one-mile mark, Whitney moved a stride ahead of Rogers.
“I was supposed to run the first mile with the pack,” Whitney said. “After that, I was going to pull out and go for the best time I could.”
With a half-mile to go, Whitney was eight seconds ahead of Rogers and, in the last lap, she was 18 seconds ahead. Whitney ran 2:39 in the final half-mile and, when she caught her breath, she said: “I feel like I accomplished my goal, and it’s really satisfying to know that.”
Her coach, Bruce Lockerbie, said her goal had been to win the county event and qualify for the state meet. Her best previous time had been 11:19.8, and she said she hadn’t really been thinking about breaking a record.