Paul Hass told Katelynne Hart the magic number was seven (Mark Capapas photo)
What the Glenbard West (IL) High School distance coach meant by that was if Hart, his nationally ranked freshman distance runner, could keep her 400m splits at 77 seconds during her 3200m run on Saturday at the Proviso West Girls Lady Panther Invite, then a school record could be in her future.
Hart went out in 71 seconds.
But it was no problem, as she built a cushion and still grabbed the record -- which was previously held by Lindsey Graham at 10:22.53. Better yet, Hart earned a U.S. No. 1 mark in the 3200m with a time of 10:15.95.
"I thought maybe we set the goals a bit too high maybe," said Hass, who's been coaching the Glenbard West cross country and track and field distance runners since 2003. "But she certainly achieved them."
Hart isn't too far removed from the cross country season, where she finished 18th overall at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland in a time of 18:01.50.
She earned All-American status with the effort but Hass said, "she still wasn't happy." The freshman also won the Illinois High School Association's Class 3A 3-mile in 16:31.
"She's obviously a very competitive girl," Hass said.
Moving forward, the freshman can look ahead to the Illinois Top Times Meet on March 24-25, which is held at Illinois Wesleyan University.
It's the state's unofficial indoor state championships.
And it's there where Hart, who also owns a U.S. No. 13 mark of 4:54.30 in the 1-mile, hopes to continue her spell of great fitness.
Ultimately, it will be left up to Hart to decide what she will compete in at the meet. Hart also has a PB of 2:15.15 in the 800m at the NCC Cardinal Classic.
But she's still not too far removed from her nation-leading 3200m run, either.
Looking back, Hass said he was impressed by the way in which his freshman got out and built a considerable lead on the field.
On Kentucky's 300-meter track, she ran a 10:21.41 in the 2-mile, which became a national freshman class record and converted out to a 10:17 3200m run.
Two weeks later, Hass was confident in Hart's fitness, though he wasn't sure if she could push forward on her own in a meet without any competition and on a 200m track with plenty of turns.
"I had my reservations," he said.
Hart did it anyway, lapping the entire field … twice.
"The goal was to go out in 73 seconds, so if we had to slow down late we could have a little bit of a cushion," Hass said. "She got too excited and went out in 71.3."
Near the end of the 16-lap race, Hart was pumping in 78 second laps until Hass told her she needed to split a final 400m kick if she wanted the school record.
Hart finished in 75.4 seconds.
"I was very pleased with that," Hass said, "and I'm always impressed by the way Katelynne runs."