In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Boston Athletic Association
BOSTON— It was a great day for Massachusetts at the B.A.A. Invitational Mile, with Bay State native Johnny Gregorek and Annie Rodenfels, who competes for the B.A.A. High Performance Team, taking victories in the professional race after dozens of young local athletes delighted in the opportunity to cross the Boston Marathon finish line in races of their own.
In the men’s pro mile, the 30-year-old Gregorek – a state 2-mile champion while competing for Seekonk High School – came from behind to triumph in 4:08.16.
“It was awesome,” said Gregorek, who knows how to put on a show for Boston fans – in 2019, he became the second-fastest U.S. indoor miler in history when he ran 3:49.98 on the Boston University track. “The crowd was great, the energy is awesome around here … it couldn’t be better, really. The goal was to win and that’s what I did.”
Running the event for the first time, Gregorek described the three-lap course in the Back Bay as “fun, a lot of tight turns. It was kind of exciting, like roller derby.” Americans Kasey Knevelbaard (4:08.88) and Shane Streich (4:09.28) placed second and third.
Asked if breaking tape on the Boston Marathon finish line might inspire him to run the 26.2-miler someday, he didn’t hesitate: “I can definitely see myself doing it as a fun thing.”
For the women, Rodenfels (4:35.51) outdueled Taryn Rawlings (4:35.59) to the line, with Emily Lipari, who previously ran for the B.A.A. team, third (4:36.98).
Capping a fast 16 hours with a fourth-place finish (4:37.24) was Peabody, native Heather MacLean, a 2020 Olympian at 1500 meters who on Friday night helped shatter the world best in the distance medley relay.
A three-time NCAA Division III champion out of the Centre College in Kentucky, the 25-year-old Rodenfels ran amid the pack of 11 women until easing up toward the leaders in the penultimate turn. “At first I was going to settle for third,” said the distance specialist, “but then I was like ‘no. I came out here to test my speed against them to get better.’”
Asked if she surprised herself a little with the win, Rodenfels laughed. “I surprised myself a lot,” she admitted. “I love the B.A.A. They took a chance on me when a lot of people wouldn’t, and I feel just as much as I want to succeed for myself I want to succeed for them, too.”