May 22, 2013
In the history of the United States, only four Americans have gone sub-4 in the mile while in high school, and only has done so in the last 36 years - Alan Webb.
The 4 Americans Who Have Gone Sub-4 Minute HS Milers
2001 – Alan Webb: 3:53.4
1967 – Marty Liquori: 3:59.8
1966 - Tim Danielson: 3:59.4
1965 – Jim Ryun: 3:55.3
*Lukas Verzbicas has a truly incredible story (now representing the US in triathlon) and ran 3:59.71 in 2011 as a student at a US high school but not as an American citizen.
Ever since last year’s adidas High School Boys Dream Mile, when a pair of juniors, Bernie Montoya of Arizona and Jacob Burchman of West Virginia, finished first and second in 4:01.32 and 4:02.73, there’s been a lot of wondering as to whether a fifth name might by added to that list this year on Saturday when the 2013 adidas High School Boys Dream mile takes place in New York.
It’s certainly a possibility as the assembled field is a very strong one as it includes Montoya (Burcham is not running this year), two high schoolers who have gone sub 4:05 in their careers in Edward Cheserek (4:02.21, the Kenyan is hoping to join the list with an asterisk * like Verzbicas as a non-American attending a US high school) and Penn Relays champ Sean McGorty (4:04.47), plus 1:47.79 800 man Andres Arroyo, 2013 indoor mile champ Henry Wynne (4:08.15, hasn’t lost a race since finishing second last year at last year’s New Balance nationals outdoors), and the top 3200 runner of the year in Ben Saarel.
Those are the six key guys that you should focus on. However, the field is full of quality and as a result we give you info on everyone entered below. We’ve bolded the six guys we think are the ones to watch and also have added in the runner’s college choices as it’s way more interesting if runner’s have allegiances that make you pull for/against them just as is the case with teams in the professional sports.
|Name||DOB||HS/College Choice||Best Mile||Best Mile/1600, 800, 3200/2mile||Comment|
|Bernie Montoya||12/16/1994||Cibola, AZ/Arizona St.||04:01.32||4:01.32 mile last year, 1:50.19, 8:47.07 (US#3)||Won last year in 4:01.32. AZ state record holder at 800, mile, and 3200.|
|Edward Cheserek||1/1/1993||St. Benedicts, NJ/Oregon||04:02.21||4:02.21 mile last year, 1:49.98 2012, 8:39.15 2 mile indoors (US #1)||Two-time FL champ.|
|Sean McGorty||3/8/1995||Chantilly, VA/Stanford||04:04.47||4:04.47 mile (US #1), 1:54.75, 8:46.07 (US #2)||Penn Relays mile champ.|
|Ben Malone||11/13/1994||Pascak Valley, NJ/Villanova||04:05.59||4:05.59 mile (US #2), 1:49.94i (US #1 indoors), 9:12.02 2 mile||Penn Relays runner-up.|
|Andres Arroyo||6/7/1995||Colonial, FL/Uflorida||4:06.13c||4:04.65 1600 (US #1), 1:47.79 (US #1), 8:51.47 (US #9)||Generating a ton of LetsRun.com buzz.|
|Jacob Thomson||11/29/1994||Holy Cross, KY, NCState||04:06.98||4:06.98 mile, 1:53.76, 8:48.73 3200||4th in Arcadia 3200|
|James Randon||6/16/1994||Middlesex, MA/Yale||4:07.79c||3:49.43 1500, 8:20.80 3000||Big improver, just a 4:19/9:23 in winter of 2012|
|Trevor Gilley||10/4/1994||Southlake Carroll, TX/Mississippi||04:08.24||4:08.24i mile, 1:52.99, 8:56.07||Runner-up in TX 1600|
|Ben Saarel||3/8/1995||Park City, UT/Colorado||04:08.55||4:08.55 mile, 1:52.64, 8:45.74 (US #1)||Mt. Sac mile and Aracadia 3200 champ|
|Blake Haney||3/29/1996||Stockdale, CA/junior in HS||4:08.65c||4:07.16 1600, 1:56.18, 8:48.58 3200,||13th in this meet as soph|
|Robert Domanic||3/10/1995||Hebron, TX/Mississippi||4:08.98c||4:07.49 1600 (US #5), 1:54.07, 8:57.95||Beat future college teammate Gilley for TX state title|
|Cameron Villareal||7/12/1995||Martin, TX/Texas A&M||04:08.11||4:08.11 mile, 9:13.15 3200||3rd at Texas meet in 1600|
|Henry Wynne||4/18/1995||Staples, VA/UVA||04:08.15||4:08.15 indoor mile, ||US indoor mile champ|
|Connor Mora||11/6/1994||Cedar Springs, MI/U. Michigan||04:10.28||4:10.28 mile, 1:54.90, 9:22.71||4th at indoor nationals|
|Garrett O’Toole||3/22/1996||Middlesex, MA/HS junior||4:12.65c||3:53.93 1500, 9:02.01||HS teammates with Randon. Rabbit supposed to go 1:57.|
The Big Six – Do Any Have A Shot At Sub-4?
Now, let’s talk about the ‘Big six.’ Could any of them break 4:00.00?
We’ll start by saying it’s not going to be easy. There is a reason why so few high schoolers in the US have gone sub-4. It’s very hard. As good as these guys are, none of them have run 8:37 flat for 2 miles which is basically the equivalent time in the deuce according to John Kellogg’s conversion chart.
If you don’t have that type of great endurance, and it’s understandably why these guys might at their young age be better at the mile than the two-mile, then you need great speed to do it. Probably sub-1:50 speed.
With that in mind, we’ll tell you who we dont think will break-4.
1. Edward Cheserek.
You may be surprised that we are writing Cheserek off first as has obviously been the most dominant throughout his high school career but it seems like he may have peaked indoors this year when he ran 8:39.15 for the deuce as he recently was beat convincingly by Penn Relays runner-up Ben Malone at the Loucks Games, 4:09.73 to 4:11.19. We thought real hard about putting Malone in as a guy in bold as he’s very good and one of just three guys with the sub-1:50 800 pr that we’d like to see but Malone was beat convincingly by McGorty at Penn (4:04.47 to 4:05.59).
2. Henry Wynne (Stanford Advocate feature on him here)
We are big fans of Wynne’s as the kid hasn’t lost a race all year. Admittedly, he skipped Foot Lockers in the fall to get ready for track but we like guys that a) win and b) aren’t afraid to buck the system a little bit. There are just too many high profile meets for high schoolers.
That being said, he just has no times behind him that make us think a sub-4:00 is coming. At indoor nationals, his 4:08.15 narrow win over Texas’ Trevor Gilley with a 57-last 440 was impressive but if you are going to go sub-4, you’d likely be killing other high school runners in that race.
If he does go sub-4, then his lack of times are just the results of the fact that he doesn’t travel all over the country to ‘big race’ after big race which in our minds is a good thing at that age.
3. Sean McGorty
In case McGorty’s reading this, let us pump him up as we write off his chances for sub-4. Watching this guy race honestly makes us think of Steve Prefontaine. He’s fearless and just goes for it. Watch his Penn Relays 4:04 mile win embedded below, and you’ll see that he goes out in 58 with no rabbits.
A week before that he solo’d an 8:46.07 3200 in windy conditions that impressed the hell out of us. Again, very old school. There is no need to get on a plane, have rabbits and perfect conditions to run fast.
Considering he ran 4:04 from the front at Penn, he could get close to 4 in New York, but again he reminds us of Pre. Look at his 800 pb – 1:54. The mile’s not his event. He’s just not speedy enough. Since he’s going to Stanford and was the Foot Locker runner-up to Cheserek, he seems to be more in the Chris Derrick mold.
If he goes sub-4, it will be because he’s in sub-8:40 shape, but even if he does that, we don’t see him winning this race.
So we had six, and now we’ve eliminated three, so that means we have three remaining.
The Three Who We Intellectually Can Make A Case for Breaking 4
1. Bernie Montoya
The Arizona legend (state record holder at 800, mile and 3200) ran 4:01.32 last year at adidas when his 800 pb was 1:52.49 and his 3200 pb was 8:48.25. Well after running an 8:47.07 for 3200 at Arcadia, he just ran a big 800 pr of 1:50.19.
He thus seems better than he was last year. If you are better than you were last year when you ran ran 4:01.32, then you’ve got a good chance.
That being said, he’s lost twice this year to Ben Saarrel, once in the 3200 at Arcadia (8:45.74 to 8:47.07) and in the mile at Mt. Sac (4:08.55 to 4:09.18).
We’re not writing Montoya off though because of those two losses. Last year, he lost at Arcadia last year to Futzum Zeinasellassie and then turned the tables on him at adidas.
2. Ben Saarel
We know he’s only seeded 9th in terms of mile prs, but times are overrated. In our minds, there is little to not like about Saarel. Yes, we’ll admit his 800/mile personal bests (1:52.64 and 4:08.55) are less than impressive for guys at this level, but have you been paying attention to what he’s been winning this spring? He won the Arcadia 3200 over Montoya as well as the Mt. Sac mile.
Can you say undefeated at 1600 and 3200 on the year?
And while his 800 pb is just 1:52.64, we know it would be much faster if he raced it more often as that PR also came at Mt. Sac where he was just .24 behind Montoya who just ran 1:50.19.
One more thing. His 1600 and 3200 times also are very misleading. He’s definitely got way more in the tank. More impressive than his wins this spring has been the way they’ve been achieved.
At Mt. Sac, he closed in 54.35 in the mile. At Arcadia, he closed in 55 in a 3200. He certainly seems to definitely be in sub 8:40 3200 shape as he also ran an 8:49 3200 at 4,500 feet of altitude.
Colorado coach Mark Wetmore is going to be a very happy man next year as he may never have had an endurance guy this good with these type of wheels.
More: *2013 Arcadia Invitational – 18 Boys Go Sub-9
*Ben Saarel over Bernie Montoya again in Mt Sac mile. 54-mid last lap
*Ben Saarel Arcadia Champ – 8:45 with 55 last lap, 4:14 second mile
*HSer Ben Saarel runs 8:49 at 4,500 feet of elevation
3. Andres Arroyo
The Florida 800, 1600, 3200 champion put himself in some elite company when he ran 1:47.79 for earlier this spring, #6 all-time at the high school level. That was just a short-while after a solo 4:04.65 1600.
He’s clearly got great wheels and that’s why we’ve got him a possible sub-4. But a 4:04.65 1600 is only equal to a 4:06.13 mile. Six seconds is a lot. In fact, we bet some of the guys in this field don’t improve by six seconds in the mile for the rest of their careers.
That being said, it’s very possible that he’s much better than his 1600 and 3200 prs of 4:04.65 and 8:51.47 as he’s another guy that hasn’t traveled all over the country to race this spring.
With his 1:47 800 speed, Arroyo very well may be the guy many college coaches would want most as he might be the most talented. Because of his great speed, we are listing him as a potential sub-4 guy for Saturday. That being said, indoors he was more than six seconds back of Wynne at the New Balance Nationals. As raw of a talent this guy is, we just find it hard to believe that a guy who was 14th indoors in 4:16.04 is going sub-4 outdoors.
More: *Andres Arroyo: Florida Prep Runs 1:47.79 for 800 Meters
*Andres Arroyo “I’m going to break four, and I’m going to win the …
*Andres Arroyo wins 800, 1600, 3200 at states – LetsRun.com
*Andres Arroyo Does 6x600m at 4:00 pace to prep for sub 4:00
*Andres Arroyo (FL) on Fire the Year – 1:47.79 at Florida Relays after 4:04 1600 two weeks ago!!!
*HS standout : Andres Arroyo
Predictions from LetsRun.com and our mystery High School Coach
So what happens?
We reached out to a top high school coach that we respect, Chris Catton, who coached Craig Engels to a 4:03.96 in the dream mile last year (and Catton is the only guy we know of who has coach three sub-9 guys in three straight years – Jake Hurysz 8:49 in 2010, Scott Morgan in 2011, Engels 8:55 in 2012), and asked him to rank our ‘Big Six’ in order 1-6. He came up with the following order:
That’s a good starting point for us. We agree on the top three, just not necessarily in that order. In terms of winning the race, here is our rankings of the guys with a brief justification (Note: we don’t think they’ll finish in this order (some guys like maybe Arroyo will go for it and either get it or die trying).
1. Saarel* - beaten Montoya twice this spring.
2. Montoya* - we’re nervous about picking him 2nd since he just PRd big-time at 800 and ran 4:01 last year. Maybe he should be our #1 pick.
3. Arroyo* - 1:47.79 is all we need to type.
4. Wynne - undefeated as a senior, hard to bet against that.
5. McGorty - gutsy runner might be our pick if it was a deuce.
6. Cheserek - seems to be past his peak.
* = potential sub-4.
As for whether anyone actually breaks-4, give us a day or two to think about and we’ll let you know before the race starts. We want to check the forecast. That’s probably the most important thing. Also it’s critical that the rabbiting is done correctly. If they go 56-61, then we don’t see it happening.
One Last Thought: We know a lot of people instinctively think, “A bunch of these guys have run sub 4:05- even some last year – so someone will go sub-4. But that’s not the way things work.
We don’t spend a lot of time analyzing the high school ranks but hope that a lot of high schoolers are reading this. One thing that is very hard for people to understand is that often after high school it gets a lot harder to improve a lot year by year, and it’s getting harder and harder nowadays considering many high schoolers are basically training like and racing like (ideal conditions under the lights) collegians.
In that light, we decided to look at the seniors who all ran-under 4:05 last year at this race. Surely, in college with great teammates to train with and super smart coaches, they must all be killing it and under 4, right? Far from it.
We’d say only one of them is significantly improved from last year.
Last Year’s Sub-4:05 adidas Seniors and Where They Are Now
3. Josh Lampron (4:02.98) – Villanova red-shirt has run 3:46.09 1500.
4. Brannon Kidder (4:03.12) – Penn St. frosh has run 3:59.48 indoors and 3:42.07 outdoors.
5. Marcus Dickson (4:03.18) – BYU frosh has run 3:45.63.
6. Craig Engels (4:03.96) – NC State red-shirt has run 3:45.51.
7. Ahmed Bile (4:04.11) – Georgetown frosh ran 1:51/2:26 indoors.
8. Izaic Yorks (4:04.38) – Portland frosh ran 4:06.15 indoors and 3:49.10 outdoors.
9. Brad Nye (4:04.46) – BYU frosh has run 1:52.27 and 3:52.13 in 1500.
Let’s forget about college for now. This should be one of the better high school races of the year with the possibility of a sub 4.
Who you got? Forget about our predictions, tell us here who you think will win.
Editor’s note: The adidas Grand Prix is an advertiser on LetsRun.com. They and LRC want you to get your butts in the stands. This piece is not part of any advertising package.