Saturday, May 03, 2014
AMHERST — Anna Kaplan spent the indoor track season perfecting a new event, and to say she found success in the 2-mile would be an understatement.
The Amherst Regional senior said she ran the distance only once or twice last indoor season before making it her main event in the 2013-14 season.
“I wouldn’t have really imagined that I could run this fast in the 2-mile, so it’s really exciting,” Kaplan said. “I hadn’t really run it very much so there was a lot of room for improvement from last year.”
Throughout the season, podium placements and new personal bests become weekly achievements. She took running the 2-mile from league duels to the Emerging Elites at the New Balance Indoors. For her efforts, Kaplan has been name the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Girls Indoor Track Player of the Year.
She took first at the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference championship in 11 minutes, 39.70 seconds, finishing almost 40 second ahead of the next runner. Kaplan turned up the pace for a second-place finish at the Division 3 state meet in 11:07.63. She took third at All-States in 11:06.57 and ran her fastest 2-mile to date at nationals in 11:06.25, good for 13th.
During her first race of the season, she ran unopposed and easily grabbed 10 points for the Hurricanes. Kaplan, though, checked the clock to a nice surprise.
“I ran it as my first race this season and ran a big PR by myself at Smith (College) and I was like, ‘Well, if I can ran against competition, I think I can run faster,’” Kaplan said.
From there on out, she was set on the 2-mile, knowing the competition would come later in the season.
Her athletic base was set during a stellar cross country season that also earned her the title of Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
“I think we were just working off what we built up in cross county and the goal is always to keep getting faster. We built in more speed work from cross country to the shorter distances,” she said. “Also, coming off a good cross country season, my endurance was good this year.”
As the indoor season progressed, Kaplan took a strong liking to the new distance. She found it to be a middle ground between the cross country (3.1 miles) and the mile, her original track speciality.
“For me, it’s easier,” Kaplan said. “You don’t have to rely so much on a finishing kick, so you can work for longer. I really like it.”
Instead of worrying about the end of the race, Kaplan learned different techniques on how to handle the distance and build up to a comfortable lead, much like the 40-second gap to win the WMass title.
“I didn’t really know the race, so I didn’t know like, this lap I need to push more or I need to speed up my last 800,” she said. “You learn how to race it smarter, which gets you a faster time.”
Having people around in races is also helpful she said. At the Division 3 meet and All-States, Kaplan used Bishop Feehan’s Abby McNultly as a pacer, but at nationals, she had 12 other girls in front of her which was all the better.
“It is really important, that’s what brings me along the most,” Kaplan said. “For nationals, when I was with a bigger group of people, it was easier to latch on and let them pull you along.”
Kaplan isn’t done with the event. She said she’ll keep the 2-mile for the outdoor championships, but not neglect the mile either. She hoped to qualify for outdoor nationals in one, if not both events, before taking her running career to the University of Vermont in the fall.
“I don’t see myself stopping running anytime soon as long as my body holds up,” she said.
Kanya Brown, junior, Amherst
Emma Gonzales, junior, Amherst
Rachel Harrington, senior, South Hadley
Anna Kaplan, senior, Amherst
Sierra Loomis, junior, Northampton
Lauren McGrath, senior, Northampton
Meg Rhodes, junior, Amherst
Serena Sarage, junior, South Hadley
Julie Carroll, sophomore, Holyoke Catholic
Alex Dibrindisi, junior, Northampton
Frances Duncan, sophomore, Amherst
Catherine Lamond, senior, Northampton
Mariel Lutz, junior, Northampton
Angela Thibault, junior, South Hadley