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Girls 800m Preview
by Dave Devine

Price, Willing to Pay

Photo by Vic Sailer
For the last twenty-five years, whenever a female high school runner has crept anywhere close to two-minutes for 800 meters, a single name has been brought forward as the point of comparison. Kim Gallagher isn’t simply the best female high school half-miler in US history, she’s one of a handful of preps whose name emerges, even now, when the question of the best female high school runner of all time is debated by American track aficionados. With good reason: Gallagher, who died in 2002 at the age of 38 after a prolonged battle with stomach cancer, still holds the national high school record in the 1500 meters (4:16.6) and 800 meters (2:00.07). She remains the only US high school girl to even slip under 2:02 (Mary Decker #2 performer at 2:02.29), much less approach two flat..

Now comes Chanelle Price, the latest precocious talent to be labeled “the next Kim Gallagher.” With Price, however, the comparisons aren’t merely reflected on the stop watch. They’re geographic and aesthetic as well. Gallagher did her prep running at Upper Dublin High School in southeastern Pennsylvania, and Price hails from Easton, PA, a town just an hour north. Still only a junior, Price can’t compete in meets on the East Coast without a seasoned coach, veteran reporter or rabid track fan mentioning the resemblance to Gallagher in poise, grace and ability.

“When people compare me to her, it feels great,” Price says. “A lot of people tell me that when I run, I make it look easy, and they said that about her too.”

Price, last year’s Nike Outdoor National 800 meter champion (2:07.71) and this past winter’s Nike Indoor champ (2:07.43 MR), knows she has a ways to go until she can truly be spoken of in the same breath as Kim Gallagher, but she’s determined to chase the two-minute barrier this summer and, if necessary, throughout her senior campaign. “It’ll be hard, but people who know me know that I never give up.”

Gallagher’s 2:00.07 national record may not be in jeopardy at this year’s NON, but Tameika Grizzle's 1996 meet record of 2:04.55 has to be considered endangered after Price’s 2:04.24 win at the Island Games in New York last weekend. Competing against a field of open and collegiate runners, Price surged from the pack at 600 meters and never looked back. “I just took off and hoped no one would catch me. I went into this [meet] not nervous at all. There was an Olympian from Jamaica in the race, so no one had any expectations of me. I was running for myself.” She plans to do the same thing in Saturday’s 800 meter final. “I’m looking to keep my title and hopefully PR again. I know those other girls won’t let me go, but I’m going to push it. Maybe try to hit that 2:02 mark.”

If she does (Gallagher’s junior class record is 2:01.82), she’ll be a step closer to catching one of the all-time greats, with a full year of high school eligibility remaining to close the gap.

FOUR MORE sure to be in the mix in the Girls 800
All photos DyeStat archives
 Sarah Cocco CO
3rd in last year's NON, best of 2:07.91 in 2007
Dominique Jackson CA
Runner-up at '06 NON, 2007 best of 2:06.09 at CA State
Blaire Dinsdale IA
Best of 2:10.17 this year, but was US#2 last year off 2:07.39 US Jr Nat's run
Natalie Johnson AZ
2007 best of 2:08.61at Arcadia Invite

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