Mike and everybody else:
I was tied up with my daughter this past weekend and wasn't on top of the New Balance National H.S. Indoor Track Championships live. Rarely had time to even get on the computer and glance at email. But, what a weekend it was for Lukas.... he single-handedly won the team championship with an unprecedented triple. Below are a few of my comments and reflections on this amazing athletic feat.
The 5K record is not a huge surprise..... he just improved nearly 12 seconds on his indoor 5K PR in two years....which is entirely feasible in a long race like the 5K. His fall X-C season in Nov-Dec indicated that he was in this kind of condition.... What is so surprising to me...is that he was able to not only hold his fitness...from the late fall....but actually improve on it....and get faster.....in the winter conditions that everyone in Chicago has had to endure in 2011. I can only assume that he was going to an indoor track at least twice a week.....for speed work....once cross country was over in early December for him. Gosh, I hope he was able to take at least 1-2 weeks easy to recover after cross....but from the looks of it... he didn't take much longer than that.....if that. I had no access to an indoor track back in H.S. and did everything outdoors during the winter....despite the snow, ice, mud, wind, etc. That's why I was never as sharp indoors.
The 2-mile is also not a huge surprise since he had had already run approx. 8:43 last month.....but what was surprising was that he was pushed by a Kenyan refugee who finished not quite 2 seconds behind him.....a Kenyan refugee who was credited with a national sophomore record .... yet admitted to being 17 years old. I did not see the race....but I imagine that the final result must have still been somewhat in doubt.....even with 400 meters to go. Obviously, it helped Lukas to be pushed like that....Was his 2-mile last month in a non-H.S. race... I can't remember. He's finding out that you only improve by 2-4 seconds at a time...when you start to get down to that rare air. That was my experience. I have not seen the splits....but I would imagine that they were probably more even than the 2-mile last month....where he went out a little too fast initially.
The 1-mile victory....only 90 minutes later....showed me some real "character" for Lukas....while it was not under 4:10...it was close....and he had competition right behind him...and I'm sure that they were putting pressure on him the whole way. He had to be somewhat fatigued in his legs by then....altho having Saturday completely off from racing had to help him recover from the 5000. Again, I would like to see the splits to better understand how this mile race was run....and won. But, a triple victory...is a triple victory....whether it be in a state championship...or a national championship. We are looking at an extremely talented and tough high school runner here...whether he is an 18 year old Junior or not. I take my hat off to him...he is amazing.
From my own personal perspective and comparison.... I only ran the 5000 on the track twice in H.S. ...and both were outdoors.... in heat. I ran 14:12.3 against the Russians...in the intense (but dry) heat of Sacramento, CA leading the whole way (until final 120 m.) on the clay track at Hughes Stadium...in July of 1972. One year later....in what was the final race of my high school career.....I led the whole way on a decent synthetic track at Odessa, Russia....against one of their top Junior runners in history, Ian Sellick, and finished in 13:58.2 during the final week of July...when I was running on fumes since track season began for me in January. These races were outdoors and one year apart. I was 16 for the first one...and 17 for the second one. Lukas is 18 years and a couple months..... It will be interesting to see if he can run faster yet in the 5K outdoors...when he has to deal with possible wind, heat, and humidity. I have always believed that indoors was potentially faster....since wind, heat, and humidity...is not a factor. The 200 meter synthetic banked tracks of today....are definitely better than what we ran on.....and allow one to go nearly as fast as on an outdoor 400 meter oval. Take away the heat and the wind....and it may be much faster overall.
I ran 4:09.2 for the mile outdoors....as a 16 yr old H.S. Junior.....and then ran 4:05.5 for the mile outdoors as a 17 yr old senior. My indoor mile PR's for the same years were 4:13 and 4:08 in 1972 and 1973. Lukas is definitely faster than me in the mile right now.... I am curious about what he could do an all-out 800 meter race in... I would suspect that he could go 1:50-1:53...just on strength. My best 1-day double for the 2-mile and 1-mile was on approximately the same weekend in March my senior year when I ran 8:45.6 in the late morning and 4:08.0 in the afternoon...at the Armory in Champaign. I did have more than 90 minutes to recover, though.... and I had not raced a fast 5K just 48 hours before that. Lukas's 8:40.7 is now faster than my 8:40.9.....so he is now Illinois's fastest 2-miler ever...although the conditions in the NYC Armory were pretty much ideal..compared to the 94 degree day on the black asphalt track that I ran on at Prospect H.S. back in June 1973. It will be interesting to see if he can improve on this 8:40.7 outdoors......when he has to contend with heat, humidity, and wind.....not to mention the competition. Again, what surprises me is that he is in this kind of shape....so soon.....after racing cross country so late into December.... and with the kind of winter that northern Illinois has had to endure this year. I took my break by mid-November...and then started a slow but steady buildup beginning with December 1st.....that lasted until the final week of July... with my peak in June and July. I would advise Lukas to take a small break after this weekend...if he wants to still be effective in June and July this summer.....then start over in college in August. It's a damn shame that he can't run at least some of the H.S. official season in April and May...and in one IHSA State Meet.
One final footnote:.... somebody has got to do something about these "H.S. class records"!!!!! There needs to be assigned a 2-year window of age....for each class......such as 14-15 for frosh/15-16 for soph/16-17 for juniors/17-18 for seniors........ for times to be official "H.S. class records." Lukas was a 16 year old frosh when he ran that 14:18 indoor 5K record two years ago....and no 14-15 year old American boy will be able to do that for at least 50 years....if ever. The same with his other "class" records..... Now we have a Kenyan refugee...who is barely in the country 8 months.....and he is being credited with a 8:42.6 Nat'l Soph U.S. record....yet we find out that he is 17 (if not older....anybody really trust the Kenyan birth records after experiences in past 20 years?)....and not even an American citizen yet. Age group records are above reproach (as long as there are accurate birth records.....or unless some blood test and age verification thru carbon testing is done).... but we just can't recognize these overage H.S. class records...and have any integrity and fairness in the system. I don't know how much of a problem it's been until now....but the immigration of young foreign refugees into this country at the H.S. level has definitely picked up since 2000 and this problem will only get worse. The class records will have no validity any more in my mind and heart if they don't do something to rein in this vast age descrepency. Who the heck is supposed to police this?
Again, the above mentioned opinions are mine...and mine alone. I am open to discussion/debate. But, I am one of the few people that has been down the trail that Lukas is now blazing. It is difficult..and I feel for him.