Many U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen are unable to discuss their commissions following their time at the Annapolis, Md., institution because national security concerns preclude them from disclosing the details of their military service.
Mt. Lebanon native Molly Mangan is hoping her time spent on the service academy’s women’s track and field team leaves plenty to talk about before her military career begins.
“I want my name on every record there is,” the senior Navy sprinter said. “Every sprint record, I want that. This season I’m going for everything. I’m going for every [personal record].
“I want to be the best there ever was at Navy,” she added. “I want them to talk about Molly Mangan for the next couple of decades.”
She’s well on her way.
Mangan began her final indoor track and field season at Navy by taking second place in the 400-meter event at the Navy Invitational with a time of 54.83 seconds. The time was the third fastest in Navy history, just .05 of a second off the school record, and was the second-fastest time in Division I track this season.
“Her goals are what her goals are, and we want to support them,” said Jamie Cook, Navy director of track and field, of Mangan, who was named Patriot League Women’s Track Athlete of the Week on Dec. 6 for her start to the season. “For her to go down as the greatest track and field athlete at the Naval Academy on the women’s side is realistic.”
Navy’s record books already feature plenty of entries for Mangan. She runs the 60-, 200- and 400-meter events, in addition to serving as the anchor of the 1,600 relay team, for indoor competitions. During the outdoor season, Mangan runs the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events, and is on the 400 and 1,600 relay teams.
Mangan, a 2019 Mt. Lebanon graduate, owns the 200-meter Navy outdoor record and is part of the 400- and 1,600-meter outdoor record-holding teams.
“I consider myself to be a 200-meter specialist,” she said. “I’ve at least, compared to others, I’ve always had a better 200. In terms of ranking regionally, or just in the Patriot League, I’ve always been a pretty strong 200-meter runner.”
For outdoor events, Mangan holds Navy’s second- and third-place all-time records in the 100 and 400 meters.
In indoor events, Mangan is third on the all-time Navy list in the 60 meters, holds the second- and third-fastest times in the 200 meters and third in the 400 meters. She is also a member of the Navy record-holding 1,600-meter relay team.
Despite Mangan’s love of the 200-meter sprint, Cook said the 400 might just be her best event as exemplified by her strong showing at the Navy Invitational in December.
“Ultimately, it’s a combination of what’s best for her and what’s best for the team,” Cook said. “She’s usually competing in a lot of different events so it’s hard for her to maximize her best in any one event.”
But that’s no problem for Mangan. Any student-athlete at Navy is up to that challenge, she said.
“I guess the advantage for us is that everybody is pretty darn dedicated and willing to juggle multiple aspects of their lives,” Mangan said. “The kind of person that comes to the Naval Academy is willing to deal with kind of 1,000 things at once and is willing to deal with high-stress scenarios.
“You’re willing to be put through a significant amount of pain for an end goal.”
Although it won’t come at the end of the season, there’s one meet that Mangan is circling on her calendar as being capable of providing a sweet end to her indoor career.
Navy will travel to take part in the Army Star Meet in West Point, N.Y., on Feb. 4.
“At Navy, we’re all about beating Army,” Mangan said. “That’s the biggest thing, regardless of anything else, you want to beat Army. Right now, knock on wood, I’m on a five [meet] win streak against Army.”
Cook said he is expecting big things from Mangan and the Navy Midshipmen over the rest of the indoor season.
“Her being a captain of the team is a huge honor, and she’s probably been one of the best captains that we’ve ever had,” Cook said. “I’m just really impressed with her leadership as well as her commitment to the overall team.
“It says a lot about her and how she was raised.”
For Mangan, that may be just as important as her efforts to top the Navy record books.
“I would hope that people would remember me as a caring teammate that also pushed people to do better,” she said. “I’d hope they’d remember me as a pretty solid captain and leader on the team and somebody that goes out there and raises the bar.”