This is really what I agree with. I think Jim Ryun was probably up there with Bekele, Kipchoge, etc in terms of talent, as in literally a few dozen per generation across the entire world. Kessler may belong with that group tbh, we'll see, but I brought him up because he's an example of someone who wouldn't have run so fast if he had a normal high school training experience. Sub-4? Maybe, but definitely not close to a 3:51 equivalent. Regardless, I think the NP kids are REALLY far away from those guys talent-wise. 97th percentile may have been too low, but I think there are probably hundreds of kids in the US right now that are as/more talented than the NP 4.
Don't disagree here about Kessler specifically, but the solid fitness base is really important in this discussion imo. What I was trying to say was that there are at least dozens of kids every year who have the talent to break 4 in HS, but never do because they play another sport, or don't have good enough training, or just haven't been training long enough. Cole Hocker's mile PR was 4:07, but put him in a situation like NP has and he undoubtedly goes under 4.
Similarly, I'm sure there are kids who have the genetic ability to break 4 in HS, but lived a sedentary lifestyle throughout H. Plus there are some who were moderately active and just never went out for track. Plus a ton of kids who could have done it, but started track in 9th grade when they would have had to start running in 6th grade.
Just look at the 2017 class, that class was loaded. 11 guys under 4:05 before new spikes, and 3 at 4:00! If NP had those guys, every single one would be under 4. Throw in Nuguse who ran 4:05 for good measure.
I feel like one year with 12 guys who definitely had the talent to go sub-4 in HS is pretty good evidence that there are probably hundreds of kids who have the talent to do what NP is doing.