York’s Cary Drake pulls away from the field early en route to winning the mile at the Class B indoor track state championships at Bates College in Lewiston on Feb. 20. Drake also won the 800 meters and 2-mile. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

YORK — Cary Drake likes to do math – whether it’s on her road runs when piecing together distance loops, when helping her coaches plot team scores on spreadsheets, and even during races, when she is usually well ahead of the pack. She looks at her split times and starts calculating to make sure she is on a successful pace.

The York High junior needed to do a lot of math at the New England championships, because she was seeded in the slower of two heats after her winning time at the Class B indoor track state championships was used for her seed time. Drake was focused on three events at states to help York win its first indoor track title, so she ran 20 seconds off her personal best in the mile, though she won that event, along with the 800 meters and the 2-mile.

Despite being in the slower heat at New Englands, she stayed calm. Then she simply did math. Drake ended up third in the New England mile, finishing in 5 minutes, 2.01 seconds.

“I look at the clock as I go past and figure it out in my head, the pace I need to be on to run what I want,” Drake said of running the mile, which requires eight laps indoors. “I’m big into spreadsheets. When I did a spreadsheet on the seeds for the state meet, I saw we had a real chance to win states. We were still behind, but it was very close. I wanted to run three events. I knew that physically, I could do three events. I don’t have a problem with that.”

For her three victories at the Class B state meet and her gritty performance at New Englands, Drake is the 2023 Varsity Maine girls’ indoor track Athlete of the Year. 

At the Class B state meet, Drake ran a personal-best of 2:18.3 in the 800, easily won the mile in 5:19.32, and took the 2-mile title in 11:35.06.


York assistant coach Matt Weber, who trains the distance runners, said he didn’t realize that Drake cruising to the victory in the mile at the state meet would cost her a place in the fast heat at the New England championships. He petitioned officials at the New England meet to get Drake in the faster heat, pointing out she ran a 4:59.11 mile at a meet at Boston University earlier in the winter. 

In addition, last year Drake took second in the mile at New Englands in a photo finish, running the same time as the winner: 5:01.52.

The officials didn’t give their answer until Drake went to check in, minutes before she ran. She found out she was in the slower heat when officials told her to step on the track and go to the start line.

Drake tried to stay focused. 

“I felt eerily calm,” Drake said. “I was frustrated, but then was not the time to let it into my head. I had to go out and push the best I could on the track. I had to adjust my goals. When I crossed the line and saw I was in the low 5s, I thought, ‘That will probably hold up and I’ll make the podium.’”

Drake consistently runs even splits – doing the math in her head to stay on pace – making for one more reason why she is successful, Weber said.


Weber said Drake is a strong and relentless worker.

“She is certainly a special athlete,” Weber said. “She pushes herself, whether she’s in a group or by herself. There is a certain amount of muscle memory that helps once a kid has run a fast time. But I certainly don’t think we’ve seen her fastest yet. She’s very confident in herself. She’s not proud or arrogant. She’s confident she can run fast. When she’s got the opportunity to run a good time (in a race with fast competition), she’ll do it.”

Drake thinks she would have run faster in the fast heat at New Englands with stronger competition around her, and might have placed second, if not first. But she doesn’t dwell on what could have been. She has no regrets.

“The team win was very special,” she said of the state meet. “Especially after winning outdoors (last year) and coming so close in cross country. To be the first team in the school’s history to win the indoor track title is very special.”

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