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Will Leer, Mary Cain star at Indoor Championships

Photo: Mary Schwalm/AP/SI

16-year old Mary Cain became the first high schooler to win at the indoor championships since 2003.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Will Leer ran the fastest indoor time run "at altitude" in winning the men's mile at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday.

His winning time was 3 minutes, 58.79 seconds.

In track and field, altitude is defined as 3,281 feet and this race site is 5,085 feet.

"I sat back, accordingly, I think, the first six laps," Leer said. "I never thought we would run sub 4 minutes here; 4.01, 4.02, sure. But under 4 minutes, I'm impressed with my run, myself, what can I say."

Leer also won the 3,000-meter run Saturday, giving him his first two national championships in a weekend.

"I never felt this feeling before, at least not at the USATF level," Leer said. "So getting it twice in one weekend is very special. I am very happy."

Also, 16-year-old, Mary Cain, a high school junior, won the women's mile and became the first high school student to win a national indoor or outdoor championship since Allyson Felix in 2003.

Although her time of 5:05.68 was fairly slow, that didn't bother Cain.

"I don't worry about time," she said. "I go in there to race and that's what I did."

Cain used a big kick, taking off with 200 meters to go to build a big lead, then held on to the finish.

"I knew I had to go now, especially with the last 200," she said. "Somebody really tried to challenge, but I was going all out."

The men's race started out hard, with Ryan McNiff, who grew up in nearby Los Alamos, which sits at 7,320 feet, pushing the pace.

"I didn't want it to be a slow race, so I went a little early," he said. "I knew that being at altitude and being from altitude, I wanted it to be a bit more of an honest race."

The altitude eventually played in Leer's favor, he said.

"It's a testament to the altitude," Leer said. "Those guys ran tactically the right race to try to take it out hard and let the fatigue settle into the guys that are trying to double back and are big contenders."

With two laps to go, Leer's kick took over, carrying him from the back group to the leaders.

And he went by the remaining four competitors in the final lap.

"Those guys took it out hard," Leer said. "They definitely made us work hard. I'm still trying to catch my breath. But you can't give up. ... I wouldn't be able to walk away with my head held high if I didn't give my absolute best. I was digging deep that last 150. But every guy I passed, you could see more and more energy as a competitor. And as a miler, and a kicker, I thrive on that. Every guy I passed, I was like, `All right, one more."'

Also, Jeremy Wariner won the men's 400 meters in a time of 45.82. It was his first indoor race since 2004. Ryan Whiting won the men's shot put with a throw of 71 feet, 6 1/4 inches.

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