STAMFORD, Conn. – Westhill High School is going to need new ink soon to keep up with the distance running star Claire Howlett.
Howlett became the first Stamford girl to go under five minutes for the 1,600 meters Tuesday when she finished third in the race at the State Open indoor track and field championships at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.
Howlett ran 4:59:08, finishing behind Sarah Gillespie of Northwest Catholic and Fairfield Warde’s Cate Allen. Howlett broke her own school record of 5:01.9, set just three days earlier at the Class LL championships.
Earlier this winter, she set the school record in the 3,200 and set a personal best in the 3,000. Tuesday’s time is the 40th best in the nation this winter among high school girls in the United States.
“I’m really happy with it,’’ Howlett said. “My main goal was to break five minutes. That’s something I’ve been wanting for a long time.”
The final lap on the 200-meter track came down to a battle between Gillespie, Allen and Howlett. Gillespie got a little separation early, while Allen and Howlett battled throughout the final lap. Howlett tucked on Allen’s outside shoulder several times, and made a couple of attempts to overtake her. Allen held her off and finished in 4:48.74. Gillespie finished in 4:56.8.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to pass Cate,’’ Howlett said. “She’s really good. I tried to stay with her as long as I could.”
Howlett will run the 1,600 in this weekend’s New England championships. Her success in the race also has her re-evaluating her goals.
“I thought I was stuck in the two-mile forever,’’ Howlett said. “Hopefully, there’s a little bit more speed and I can run even faster. I’m looking forward to running the five kilometer race at the New Balance Games (in March) and hopefully run a fast mile outdoors.”
Westhill’s Alison Ambrosecchio finished ninth in the 1,000 meters. For the boys, Billy Thibault finished fifth in the pole vault with a leap of 13 feet, 6 inches.