By Janee Law
When she crossed the finish line in the 300-meter race at the Molloy Stanner Games in Manhattan earlier this month, 17-year-old track star, Mary Chimezie, said she was “shocked.”
The Thunderbird crossed the finish line in a blazing 39.49 seconds, which is not only the fastest time in High School East’s history, but, as Chimezie said, “As I was coming down the last straight away, I heard the announcer say ‘U.S. No. 5’ after I crossed the line.”
As of deadline Monday, Chimezie has run the fifth-fastest time in the country in the 300-meter race this winter season.
“I was really shocked after I heard that,” the senior said.
The result shocked Chimezie’s coach, Brian Strack, as well.
“Not that I didn’t expect that, she has the ability to be one of the best in the country, [but] just the fact that she actually did it,” Strack said. “It was very amazing.”
Chimezie was moved up to varsity level for the spring season when she was in eighth grade, and, ever since, she has competed with High School East’s varsity track team for the winter and spring seasons and cross-country for the fall season.
“I’ve always kind of known I was fast,” Chimezie said. “I think it was elementary school, we always had races in gym and I’d always beat the boys. That’s when I knew I was fast.”
Since beginning her varsity track career, Chimezie has competed in the 200-meter, 300-meter, 400-meter, 600-meter races, and several relay races.
Her time in the 300-meter race at the Molloy Stanner Games, which were hosted at the Armory in Manhattan on Jan. 16, is also the second-fastest all time in Suffolk in the race. Chimezie also holds Suffolk’s 200-meter record with a time of 25.04, which she set during the winter of her freshman season.
“She went to nationals as a freshman and was All-American as an emerging elite... and she actually qualified for states and earned All-State honors for every season on varsity,” coach Strack said. “She’s excellent. She’s the type of person if you tell her to do something she’s going to go out and do it.
“She never questions what you’re asking her to do, all the while understanding what we’re doing is trying to accomplish a goal. She’s every coach’s dream.”
During this winter season, Chimezie said she works on a mix of sprint workouts and endurance workouts. To progress in the 300-meter race, Strack had Chimezie train in the 600-meter race, which she said has “helped a lot.”
Whenever she’s racing, to start strong, Chimezie said she emerges into a full sprint and focuses on maintaining that momentum until she passes the finish line.
“I just try to cancel everything out. And when the gun goes off, I just take off,” she said.
Maintaining a 3.8 GPA, Chimezie said she will be attending Stony Brook University on a partial track scholarship. Chimezie said her future Stony Brook teammates have reached out to her in order to congratulate her on being top five in the nation.
At Stony Brook, Chimezie said she plans to pursue her dreams of becoming a sports medicine physician.
But she also has some dreams left for this winter track season.
“My goal for the season was to break a 40, and I already did that. So now I guess I could break a 39,” she said.
Chimezie is scheduled to compete in the Suffolk’s large school championship on Feb. 3 at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus. She plans to run in the 300-meter, the 4x200-meter relay and possibly the 55-meter or 600-meter races.