2010 Parkway Central High School (Chesterfield, MO) graduate and Providence College fifth-year senior Emily Sisson broke the women’s indoor track and field collegiate record for the 5k run Saturday, February 28 at the Big East championships at the Armory in New York City. Sisson’s time of 15:12.22 bested former Providence runner Kim Smith’s college record mark of 15:14.18 set in 2004. Sisson improved by more than eight seconds off her previous best of 15:21.84, set in December.
Making the feat even more impressive was that Sisson did it without the help of close competition to push or lead the pace. Sisson’s winning margin was 1:08. Sisson’s time gives her the second fastest time in the world this indoor season.
On February 14th, Sisson ran 8:52 in the 3k race at the Millrose Games in New York City, giving her the top time in the U.S. and the sixth best in the world this year and making her fifth all-time among collegiate women indoors.
After the record breaking performance, Sisson spoke with ArmoryTrack.com and said breaking the record wasn’t even a thought coming into the race. Sisson was just hoping for a hard effort. “No I wasn’t planning on it (record), it wasn’t even on my mind.” About her mindset, Sisson said she planned to go out at 15:36 pace and try to close quicker. She thought a new personal record of 15:20 or so would make for a great race. Sisson said she felt “really good” during the race but had it not been for the track announcer, she wouldn’t have realized she was on record pace.
Sisson has made big strides this season and added, “Training has been going great, this whole year has been incredible. I’ve just been enjoying every step along the way cause it’s my last one. I feel like a different runner, I feel like I’ve made such big strides. Didn’t know I was going to do this. It’s just a great feeling.”
And what is Sisson’s reaction to achieving the record and what that means going forward? “It’s surreal. This time last year I never would have thought about being in this position. This year unfolded great, everything just set up really well. The team atmosphere, (Coach) Ray, and everything. I started grad school this year so I didn’t know how that was going to go. It’s just worked out really well.”
When Sisson heard she was under record pace she didn’t hold back. “The last like (kilometer) or 1200 (meters) I wanted to keep pushing, I wanted to see how close I could get. Then in the last 400 I think I knew, as long as I finish decent I could get it , so I just tried to enjoy it. That’s something my coach once told me.”
With the record, Sisson got to experience a victory lap. “I was a little nervous about taking that , I’ve never done that before. But it was really cool, my teammates, they’re just so supportive and everyone here, the atmosphere is great for this kind of thing.”
The former cross country and track and field state champion for two different Omaha high schools and Parkway Central High School is making the most of her final year of collegiate competition. Sisson capped her college cross country career in November of 2013, as she earned her third All-American honor in the sport with a 7th-place nationals finish, while leading her Providence team to the NCAA Division I national title. Sisson’s cross country eligibility was exhausted last fall, but she has indoor and outdoor track and field eligibility remaining. Sisson will look to add to her nine All-American honors and seek her first individual national titles at the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ar. March 13-14.
Sisson had already earned high school All-American honors when she moved to Chesterfield from Omaha, Ne. and enrolled at Parkway Central in 2008, just before her junior year. Sisson captured Missouri state championships individually in cross country in 2008 and 2009, while also capturing the Missouri Class 4 track and field titles in the 4×800 meters, 1600 meters, and 3200 meters in 2009. Sisson was also a four-time Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships qualifier, with a best finish of 3rd as a senior in 2009.
Sisson skipped competing for Parkway Central her senior year of track so she could compete on her own desired schedule in 2010. That decision worked out well. Sisson took second at the New Balance High School Indoor National Championships in March, falling to Megan Goethals by 7/100ths of a second in the two-mile in 10:10.21 to break the meet record. At the end of March, Sisson impressed with an 18th-place finish at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Poland. In April, Sisson won the collegiate/open 5k at the Kansas Relays in about 16:20. In May, Sisson faced a few collegians in the mile at the Festival of Miles. Sisson ran one of the fastest 1600-meters/miles in Missouri high school history with a 4:48 to win.
Sisson went on to win the 3k at the 2010 USA Track and Field junior championships and earned a spot on the U.S. Junior Team that competed at the World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada. After a 10th place finish in the 3k in 9:16.80, Sisson decided to run the 5k, which she wasn’t scheduled to do, but no other Americans had a qualifying time to compete in it like Sisson did. Sisson faced the world’s best runners 19 years-old and under and battled to a sixth-place finish in 15:48.91, breaking the U.S. High School national record. That record stood until last year when teenage phenom Mary Cain bettered it.
*The overall collegiate record is 15:01 by Jenny Simpson who did so on an oversized, 300-meter track in Seattle, in 2010. The mark can’t be counted as an official indoor record though because it didn’t come on an standard 200-meter track.