Nicole Sifuentes Goes Two-for-Two at B.A.A. Invitational Mile

By Barbara Huebner

A cold front came through just before the B.A.A. Women’s Invitational Mile late Saturday morning, bringing gusting winds and plummeting temperatures to Boylston Street, but it was nothing that defending champion Nicole Sifuentes couldn’t handle. The two-time Olympian for Canada, who now lives in Michigan, was hot again, leading the mile from wire-to-wire before breaking the tape in 4:37.2.

Sifuentes, who set the course record last year in her debut here, ran the same as she did in 2017: with courage and little regard for the tight turns on the three-lap course looping from Boylston Street, around Newbury Street and finally finishing at the Boston Marathon finish line.

"I planned to approach it the exact same way I approached it last year, and I did,” said the 31-year-old Sifuentes, the 2014 IAAF World Indoor bronze medalist at 1500 meters.

Training partner Shannon Osika was runner-up in 4:39.3, with Lauren Johnson of the B.A.A. High Performance Team third in 4:41.3.

Coming through the first lap, Cory McGee (who would end up a close fourth) and Osika were right on the heels of Sifuentes; by the second lap, Johnson had joined them but Sifuentes was clearly in control. As the women rounded the final turn toward the finish, Sifuentes had gapped her rivals and sailed home with a smile, in contrast to last year’s exhaustion.

“Two in a row!” she said brightly. “I had a good time out there today. It’s really fun to win here because they make such a big deal out of it. When you come around that turn every time [in front of the grandstand], you just hear those fans. You can’t really hear anything behind you so you just run scared. At least I did.”

For the victory, Sifuentes took home $3,000.

In the B.A.A. Girls’ Scholastic Mile, consisting of two girls each from the eight cities and towns – Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston – along the Boston Marathon course, Wellesley’s Margaret Donahue ran off the right shoulder of Newton’s Caroline Barry for much of the race before pulling ahead on the last lap to win in 5:11.5.

Donahue, a junior at Wellesley High School, and Barry, a senior at Newton South, had the two fastest personal bests (4:57 and 5:02, respectively) coming into the race, and the resumes to go along with them: Donohue won the Emerging Elite division at NB Nationals Indoor last month, while Barry was runner-up in the state indoor championships this winter at 2 miles.

“I knew the last 100 meters would come down to a sprint,” said Donahue, whose Wellesley team finished second to the Newton duo of Barry and Einat Gavish, who finished fourth overall.

The B.A.A. Middle School 1000m was won by Charlotte Kouroriez of Newton in 3:16.6 , with Eliza Brown of Brookline second in 3:19.6 and Rowan Shumaker of Natick third in 3:32.4. Despite leading most of the way, however, Kouroriez said the win didn’t come easily.

“I saw [Brown] right behind me and I was tired,” said Kouroriez, the 2017 Division 2 Middle School Cross Country State Champion, adding that she was spurred on by the crowd. “You hear them cheering and you want to succeed for them,” she said.

Brookline (Brown and sixth-place finisher Elise McKendry) won the team title.