March 25, 2018
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MDI running standout headed to prestigious New Balance Grand Prix

BDN file | BDN
BDN file | BDN
Mount Desert Island's Tia Tardy (right) pulls away from the pack to cross first during the girls seeded race as part of the Maine Cross Country Festival of Champions at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast on Oct. 1, 2016.
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By Ryan McLaughlin, BDN Staff

Last winter, Tia Tardy made history in becoming the first girl in the history of the PVC-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League to break the elusive five-minute barrier in the mile.

The Mount Desert Island senior has even bigger aspirations on the track this winter and, later this month, she’ll be participating in one of the most prestigious meets in the country.

Tardy, who has yet to race this winter, will compete in the Junior Mile at the New Balance Grand Prix on Jan. 28 at Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center.

The meet, which will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network from 4 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 28, features some of the nation’s best track and field athletes.

Tardy’s race is scheduled for 4:25 p.m.

“[The invitation] was totally unexpected but I’m really excited for it,” Tardy said. “It’s going to be a great learning experience. I know there’s going to be a lot of tough girls there.”

Tardy, who recently committed to run at Bucknell University, is only the second schoolgirl runner from Maine to be invited to the meet. Former Waterville standout Bethanie Brown, who now competes for Iowa State University, participated in 2013.

Brown finished second that winter in 4:54.57, which remains the fastest mile time ever recorded by a Maine schoolgirl runner.

Last winter, all 11 participants in the Junior Mile broke the 5-minute mark. If that’s any indication, Tardy will be in a fast field.

She said she’s unsure of how many girls are participating, but is eager for some challenging competition.

“It’ll be good to see where I’m at, what do I need to do to keep lowering my time and stuff,” Tardy said.

Tardy plans to make her winter debut on Saturday in a PVC-Eastern Maine Indoor Track League meet at the University of Maine, where she’ll single in the 2-mile.

That is one of three meets MDI has scheduled until Tardy participates in the Grand Prix, and she’s hoping to run the mile at least once prior to the competition.

PVC-EMITL teams have had a long racing layoff after the second weekly meets of the season were canceled due to weather in late December.

“I’m really excited for this season,” she said. “I think it’s going to be really, really good.”

While Tardy won’t be racing against any of her professional distance-running idols in Boston, she’s hoping to feed off the energy of the meet and a likely capacity crowd that will fill the Reggie Lewis Center

She’s hoping to clock in somewhere in the 4:55 range or faster. Tardy’s EMITL record is 4:55.23.

“I don’t want to be slower than I was last year,” she said.

Tardy said the break she took after a cross-country season that culminated in her winning individual conference and regional championships while leading MDI to PVC and Class B North team crowns will be beneficial in the long term.

“I got back into it with a little bit of cross-training,” she said. “It feels great.”

Follow Ryan McLaughlin on Twitter at rmclaughlin23


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