WOODBURY – This Tuesday in Manchester, Nonnewaug senior Mary Bibbey could make history. If she wins the CIAC girls 2,000-meter steeplechase, Bibbey will be the first athlete in Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference history to win the event four times.
It’s not a feat Bibbey is taking for granted, either. In fact, Bibbey said she is worried that her busy schedule off the track has her worried that she might not break former Nonnewaug athlete and current boys coach Jackie Nicholas’s current record of three titles in the event.
“This year has been kind of crazy because I’ve had so many priorities and goals in a lot of different areas, so I haven’t necessarily been able to put the time into track the way I’ve wanted to,” Bibbey said during the Region 14 Student Art Show, where she was showing her senior portfolio. “In that sense, I’m almost a little worried. I’ve got to work my butt off to really prepare myself.”
Bibbey, who was All-State in soccer, basketball, and track and field this year and won the prestigious Ray Marinko Award as the Berkshire League’s top senior athlete, could simple walk away with an impressive resume and get ready to compete as a runner for Brown University in the fall.
But Bibbey, a top ten percent scholar and a member of Nonnewaug’s National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, and National Science Honor Society, is super competitive and up for the challenge.
“It’s definitely something I’m committed to finish out because I’ve done it for three years,” Bibbey said. “I’m super-excited because I’m going to be able to continue my career in running. Right now I’m going to do everything I can this year to get that win.”
Bibbey said it’s possible that no matter how prepared she is for the race on Tuesday, that anything can happen. Bibbey said there could be some incredible athletes coming out to do the steeplechase. She said she kind of has a sense of who the competition will be, based on the advance entry list and the results of the 2,000-meter steeplechase earlier this spring at the O’Grady Relays.
“I just have to make sure I stay committed and when it comes to race time, I’m totally mentally there, and ready to do it,” Bibbey said. “There were a few athletes who were semi-close to me throughout the season, so I’m prepared for that, but it’s always nice to have competition to help me get my time down.”
The 2,000-meter steeplechase is not an everyday event. In fact, it’s run once a year at the CIAC State Open. A 2,000-meter steeplechase has 18 barriers and five water jumps.
Bibbey credits Nonnewaug girls track coach Arleigh Duff for her success on the track and helping her since the day she tagged along as a freshman to give the steeplechase a try.
“He does everything he can to support me and is a continuous support for anything, all my opinions, and how I’m going to train.” Bibbey said. “He’s totally committed to my training, he’s always there to practice whenever I want to. That’s huge having a coach who is so committed to you and your own goals.”
Bibbey is also fortunate that Nicholas is there as the boys coach. Nicholas adds that training is difficult since Nonnewaug does not have a steeplechase facility, and has to prepare by doing drills and simulating jumps with hurdles.
While Nicholas will be at Manchester High School on Tuesday to help her three entrants – Eddie Nicholas, Elias Field, and Gregory Bastek – she said she will certainly be rooting for Bibbey to break her record.
“It would be awesome to keep it in the Nonnewaug family,” said Nicholas, who won the event in who won the steeplechase in 2009, 2010 and 2011, her sophomore, junior, and senior years. “I hope she gets it. It’s interesting because in track, it always depends on the competition. A winning time one year may be 30 seconds off from winning the next year, either because of the competition or how deep the field is.”