I was barely a sub 4:30 hs miler. I did run about 32:05 for 10km, 15:17 for 5km, and 8:46 for 3km in hs though. Always more competitive in cross country than track.
In Oregon large school division (same class as Galen Rupp in 2004) I never made states in track and was only 13th in cross country. Galen won state in just under 15:00 that year and I ran 15:48 for 13th place. It was a pretty tough year with guys like Galen and Ryan Vail and other footlocker finalists.
So Rojo really took a chance on me. We had much better guys at Cornell in that recruiting class (actual sub 4:15 milers and sub 9:20 2-milers).
Still, Rojo coached me to an Olympic Trials Qualifier in the marathon (2:21:43 back then), a Conference Title in the 10km (three sub 30-min 10km races for me in track), and qualifying as an individual for NCAAs in cross country. As a team we finished 2nd in conference my senior year and our track team consistently won conference...we had a fairly strong distance squad (for Ivy League standards).
You're really comparing 8km cross country PR times? I ran 24:41 at Van Cortlandt Park (full 5-mile course)...that was probably my best cross country performance. Sure, I split faster with sub 23:48 for 8km during a 10km on the track though and ran like 24:15 at Pre-Nats xc one year. In Oregon when I was in hs we ran super fast, flat courses sometimes. My "15:17 hs PR" was actually "converted" from a 15:07 timed race that we measured to only be 4910m.
Look up the results of the 2007 NCAA DI cross country meet...I was 83rd place (it was a decent race for me...not great...but not bad). We figured basically every single American guy that finished ahead of me was: 1. either a Footlocker Finalist and/or 2. ran a sub 9:20 two miler and/or sub 4:15 miler in hs.
I was actually really happy with how my college running turned out. Qualified for the Olympic Trials when I was 21. Won the 10km at Conference. Qualified for NCAAs in xc. Sure, I would've liked to have been "All American" as well, but given my "talent" level in hs I felt like I progressed pretty well under Rojo. A lot of my dreams actually did "become reality"
Rojo's coaching and guidance basically created my whole running career. I learned the value of chasing after longer distance events like the marathon...the pay offs of consistent high mileage training and "uptempo work".....and the business side of running. He was a very good coach and he really cared about our success as athletes and people. Sure, I argued with him about the specifics of some workouts and certain training structures...but he did let me run 2 marathons during my junior year (right after cross country and track seasons!). Because of Rojo I was able to continue on straight into Hansons after graduating and continue running as a sponsored athlete.