Running fast. Running first. Mary Kate Anselmini, a senior at Ward Melville High School, has added two more accomplishments to her growing athletic resume.
The 17-year-old runner will compete in the girls' mile race Jan. 28 during the famed Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden. Anselmini became the first automatic qualifier for the Millrose mile after she posted a personal-best indoor time of 4:58:06 on Dec. 18 at the 57th annual Bishop Louglin Invitational Games in upper Manhattan.
"It was a fast time for so early in the [indoor] season," Anselmini said. "It was a huge relief to get that [automatic qualifying] out of the way. ... Obviously, I was very happy. After you finish racing and win, there is a runner's high."
Ward Melville track coach Tom Youngs said she finished first among 15 runners at the New Balance Track & Field Center. Youngs, who has coached Anselmini the last five years, also said she is currently the national leader for the best indoor mile time.
"She led the last half of the [Bishop Louglin] race. She won pretty handily," said Youngs, who previously had one other athlete qualify for the Millrose mile. "This is definitely something we focused on coming into the indoor season."
Anselmini also excelled in her 2010-11 indoor debut Dec. 5. She won the girls' 3,000 meters in a prep meet at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. Her first-place finish of 10:14.06 is the top time in New York State so far this season.
"Mary Kate is extremely decicated to what she does," Youngs said. "She puts a lot of effort into her workouts and she is very focused on improving every time out."
Anselmini, who is also the vice president of the National Art Honor Society at Ward Melville, started training hard back in July for the cross-country season. During one summer week, she said she ran a total 62 miles.
"She knows how to push herself," Youngs said.
Anselmini is expanding her regional and national reputation. Last spring she won the state championship in the 2,000-meter steeplechase, and in June she traveled to North Carolina and won the steeplechase at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals with a time of 6:42. For cross country, Anselmini owns the sixth-fastest time for Suffolk County girls to complete the five-kilometer course at Sunken Meadow State Park.
"If she is not the best, she ranks as one of the best kids I've coached," Youngs said.
About 20 college coaches have shown a serious interest in recruiting Anselmini, whose mother, Katie Dunne, is the girls' head track coach at Farmingdale High School. Anselmini said her final five college choices are Colorado, Columbia, Duke, Stanford and William & Mary.
"Every race I run is the culmination of all the steps I've taken, all the workouts I have done," Anselmini said.