For the past two years the Lake Braddock track star has led the nation's high school girls in the 500-meter run. As a sophomore her speedy exploits earned her all-America honors. She is the defending Virginia state champion indoors in the 500 meters and outdoors in the 400 meters.

Birge, a junior, was the only participant in Saturday's George Mason high school track and field invitational to double. She won both the 300- and 500-meter runs.

She was the defending 500 champion and record holder. Last year as a slightly built sophomore with long blond hair, Birge stormed the field, winning in 1:14.89. This year, she's grown to a muscular 5-9 and her hair's cut short, but the outcome is the same, only faster. Saturday, she left her competitors and eclipsed last year's mark with a 1:14.33.

"Finally," she said. "I finally broke that time, I haven't been able to since I was a freshman."

Birge only took up the sport during the indoor season of her freshman year. And right from the start she was stuck in the 500. She says she likes it. This year she expanded her horizons to include the 300. In doing so she beat a quality field at George Mason, winning the event in a 40.41.