Sunday, 30 April 2017 10:33

Bedford's Salis wins mile at Penn Relays

A small trip-up with about 300 meters to go could have cost Leya Salis the race. Instead, it helped her make history.

The Bedford High School senior became the first female from New Hampshire and only the third from New England to win the girls' high school mile run at the Penn Relays at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on Thursday. The Penn Relays, now in its 123rd year, is the oldest track and field competition in the nation.

Salis, who moved to Bedford from Virginia before her junior year of high school, won the event in a personal-best time of 4 minutes, 52.95 seconds. Runner-up Camille Davre, of Whitefish Bay High (Wis.), finished in a time of 4:53.66.

Salis did not have many expectations for herself going into the meet. The mile run was her first outdoor race of the season. She won the New England indoor title in the 1,000-meter run in a meet and state record time of 2:48.25 in March.

Salis finished 10th in the mile at last year's Penn Relays, which marked her first time competing in that event at the meet. This season marked her fourth time competing at the relays.

"I never thought I'd be a winner," Salis said. "Is was so cool to experience this, especially senior year in my last high school Penn Relays."

The top of the pack ran the beginning of the race slower than Salis expected, which allowed her to keep pace and stay among the leaders early on, she said. The slow start allowed Salis to conserve her energy, which came in handy when another runner tripped her up with 300 meters remaining. She didn't fall.

"When I was tripped-up with 300 to go, my gear changed," Salis said. "My whole form changed. I went into a full-out sprint, almost. I had a lot left in me because we started out slow."

With about 200 meters to go, Salis was in fourth or fifth place, she said. She passed Abbe Goldstein, of Germantown Academy of Fort Washington, Pa., to take the lead with about 100 meters left. Salis held off both Goldstein, who finished third, and Davre to earn the title.

Salis said the act of breaking the tape at the finish line Thursday marked just her second time doing so in her high school track or cross-country career. The first time occurred when she won her first ever cross-country race when she was a freshman at Oakton (Va.) High School.

"It was amazing to cross the tape at the finish line and know I gave it my all at such a prestigious meet," Salis said.