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Track and field: Niwot’s Elise Cranny wins New Balance Nationals mile

Niwot's Elise Cranny, right, sneaks past Air Academy's Katie Rainsberger to win the 4A title at the state cross country championships in Colorado Springs on Oct. 27, 2012.
Lewis Geyer/Times-Call
Niwot’s Elise Cranny, right, sneaks past Air Academy’s Katie Rainsberger to win the 4A title at the state cross country championships in Colorado Springs on Oct. 27, 2012.

Showcasing her talents on the national stage, Niwot High School junior Elise Cranny continues to send messages back to the distance running community in her home state of Colorado.

On Sunday, her message read that the Colorado prep records in the 1,600-meter run could be in jeopardy.

At the New Balance Nationals on Sunday in New York, N.Y., Cranny ran the mile in 4 minutes, 40.62 seconds to take first place at the nationally-acclaimed indoor event. Her time was a personal-best by 15 seconds and also broke the previous meet record by two seconds.

What’s more, Cranny’s 4:40.62 landed her fifth on the all-time list of high school girls indoor mile runners time in the United States, according to Alan Versaw, Colorado’s regional affiliate and webmaster for Milesplit.com. The four runners with faster times than Cranny are Mary Cain (4:28.28), who set her fastest time this winter, Debbie Heald (4:38.5), Lynn Jennings (4:39.0) and Mary Decker (4:40.1), who ran for the University of Colorado in the late 1970s.

Cranny has said her goal her junior season is to break the Colorado All-Classifications 1,600-meter state record, which is also the state meet record, set when Boulder’s Melody Fairchild ran a 4:49.86 in 1991. Sunday’s performance proves that she’s on track.

“I think Melody Fairchild’s record is probably in danger this Spring,” Versaw said. “It’s not a done deal but Elise is the most credible threat that record has ever seen. If we get the right conditions on the right day, we could definitely see that record go down.”

Of course, Cranny accomplished her latest feat at sea level and to break the record she has to do it in the state of Colorado, and at state to break the state meet record. But running the time she did in the indoor mile is a good indicator of where she stands to begin the 2013 prep track season.

Cranny’s time also was the fastest true mile ever run by a Colorado High School female runner, according to Versaw. Highlands Ranch’s Eleanor Fulton, he said, is now in second with a 4:42.90, which she ran at the Adidas Dream Mile in New York in June of 2011.

Niwot Cougars head coach Maurice Henriques said he knew Cranny had been on fire lately. But even to his familiar eyes, Sunday’s showing was a surprise.

“You know what, she had a workout on Tuesday and she crushed it,” Henriques said. “But I was just thinking she was working out with her guys and she was beating them pretty consistently. I looked at the coaches and I said she was going to run fast. But I didn’t think it was gonna be 4:40.”

Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi

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