WTW: High School Sensations, Fake Marks, and Nico Young 3:54 Mile?
The Week That Was in Running, January 17 – January 23, 2022
By Robert Johnson
January 25, 2022
Each week, we try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.
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Will Sumner SHATTERS US HS 600m Record
The most impressive performance of last week came from the US high school ranks. At the CYUP Misfits Invitational in Chicago, Will Sumner of Canton, Georgia, SHATTERED the US high school indoor 600m record by running 1:15.58. One of my pet peeves is how whenever a record is broken you’ll see people use the term “shatters” even if the record was barely broken. But in this case, it’s justified as the previous record was 1:17.58 by Strymar Livingston in 2012. As Doug Binder pointed out, Sumner’s time is actually closer to Donavan Brazier’s world best of 1:13.77 (1.81) than it was to the old record (2.00 seconds).
LetsRun.com coaching/stat guru John Kellogg says Sumner’s 600 time is equivalent to a 1:46-flat 800 if achieved by a true 800 guy and not just a long sprinter moving up to the 800 (more like a 1:48-1:50 for that type), though the latter description has applied to Sumner up to this point in his career. Last year, he raced the 200 and 400 a lot achieving PBs of 21.55 and 47.01, but only ran the 800 a few times (1:51.67 pb).
The non-altitude indoor HS record for 400 is 46.01. In the 800, it’s hard to believe, but only four US high schoolers have ever broken 1:50 indoors and only one has broken 1:49 (Josh Hoey has the national record at 1:47.67). It will be interesting to see where Sumner ends up on the all-time US HS list for 400 and 800 this winter. For the record, he’s already set the 500 record as well this year (61.25, video here).
We had his splits as unofficially at 24.5, 25.2, 25.9.
6’5″, 225-Pound 16-Year-Old Runs 20.79 Indoor 200
Sumner’s mark was the best HS mark of the last week, but as a fan of American football, it was hard not to impressed by the 20.79 run by high school junior Nyckoles Harbor at the Texas Tech Under Armour High School Classic. That’s the #4 mark in US indoor history. Harbor, who attends Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., is also a 5-star recruit for football who is 6’5″ and 225 pounds — his primary position is defensive end but he also plays wide receiver. And he’s very much into track as he’s been an age-group star since at least age 12.
With a July birthday, Harbor is young for his grade. In the spring and summer of 2021, at age 15, he ran 10.31/21.36. Given his size, comparisons with Usain Bolt are already being made. One LetsRun staffer believes there are way too many Bolt comparisons these days and that it’s unnecessary and unfair to compare any young sprinter who shows a whiff of promise to Bolt, but it’s my website, so I’m going to do it anyway.
|Usain Bolt||Nyckoles Harbor|
|Age 14 PR||21.73||21.72|
|Age 15 PR||20.58||21.36|
|Age 16 PR||20.13||20.79i|
|Age 17 PR||19.93||???|
One more thing: in this interview, Harbor is asked about running track in college in addition to playing football, and it appears to be something he’s interested in. Another reason for all you big-time football schools (looking at you, Clemson) not to cut your track program.
Jess Piasecki Is On Fire
The USA isn’t the only country seeing their 30+ year-old women find the form of their lives this winter.
Thumbs up to Britain’s Jess Piasecki. When she toed the start line at the Olympics in August, the 31-year-old Piasecki owned pbs of 32:33 for 10k and 71:34 for the half. Her race in Sapporo did not go well — she ran 2:55:39 and finished 71st. Since then, however, the 2:25 marathoner has smashed those pbs virtually every time she’s raced, which has been often. At 10k, she’s run 32:01, 31:20, and 31:38. In the half marathon, she ran 69:44 in November and obliterated that pb over the weekend in Spain by running 67:20 at the Mitja Marató Internacional Vila de Santa Pola.
67:20 makes her the second-fastest Brit ever on a record-eligible course behind the great Paula Radcliffe (66:47). Interestingly, three of the top four times on that list have come in the last five months. Radcliffe’s 66:47 dates all the way back to 2001, when she ran it to win the World Half Marathon Championships in Bristol. But behind her is Piasecki, Eilish McColgan (67:48 at the Great North Run on September 12), and Jessica Judd (67:52 in Houston on January 16).
Piasecki wasn’t the only 31-year-old to pb in Santa Pola. 31-year-old Pauline Esikon of Kenya was the race winner in 67:15 and she ran an even bigger pb as her previous pb was 71:13. 59:08 half marathoner Felix Kibitok won the men’s race in 59:33.
No, a Man Did Not Run 27:22 and a Woman Did Not Run 30:14 at Nearly 8,000 Feet of Altitude
In the first few weeks of 2022, the sport has seen a surprising number of notable timing/measurement mistakes. At Texas Tech two weekends ago, it was initially reported that Ruth Usoro broke the collegiate record in the triple jump by jumping 14.76 meters. A few days later, they realize she jumped just 13.76 meters. In that same meet, it looks like they missed a false start by Terrence Jones in the men’s 60 when he tied the collegiate record 6.45.
Last weekend, we had another mess up, this time at the Great Ethiopian Run. Initially, the winning times for Gemechu Dida and Yalemzerf Yehualaw in the 10k race were reported as 27:22 and 30:14. Now, we’ve seen some crazy fast 10,0000 times on the track in the past at altitude in Nairobi — Geoffrey Kamworor ran 27:01 there in June. But Nairobi is at 5,889 feet of altitude. Addis Ababa is at 7,726. Casual observers of the sport may not realize how much harder it is to run at 7,726 feet of altitude than it is at 5,889. A 30:14 at 7,726 feet would convert to a 28:21 according to the NCAA, whereas at 5,889 feet it would convert to a 29:00.
Anyways, that’s a long way of saying those times were too good to be true. It turns out that race organizers realized there was a timing error and the actual winning times were 28:24 and 31:17, which convert to 26:38 and 29:20 according to the NCAA, which is probably a little generous for those born and raised at altitude. Yehualaw must be tired of her marks getting invalidated after the fact. Remember, in August she ran what she thought was a world record of 63:44 at the Antrim Half Marathon only for race organizers to later admit the course was short.
3:54* and 3:54 Without an Asterisk
On Friday, 19-year-old American Nico Young of Northern Arizona University ran 4:02.89 at a home meet at NAU at 6,877 feet of altitude. That converts to 3:54.07 according to the NCAA. The race was an attempt by NAU alum Luis Grijalva to become the first person to break 4:00 in Flagstaff, though both Young and Grijalva (4:04.18) came up just short.
After the race, NAU trumpeted Young’s time as a school record. We disagree. Young’s time may well be the fastest mile ever in Flagstaff, and we have no problem with him using an altitude conversion to qualify for NCAAs. But the whole point of a record is that it represents the fastest time someone actually ran. You don’t get to use a conversion to break a record. The NAU school record holder in the mile should be Geordie Beamish at 3:56.90.
One day after Young’s run, 2019 NCAA 1500 champ Yared Nuguse of Notre Dame ran 3:54.46 at home after a 1:59 opening half to move to #10 on the all-time NCAA indoor mile list according to TFN (and note the TFN list does not include altitude conversions).
Two Key Figures For Kenya at the 1968 Olympics Have Died
Last week, two men who played roles in Kenya’s rise as a distance powerhouse died.
- RIP: Kenya’s 1st national athletics coach – John Velzian – dies at age 94 The Brit moved to Kenya before independence in 1955 and never left. He was their first national athletics coach but was sacked prior to the 1968 Games before being re-hired after Kip Keino‘s form faltered.
*MB: Legendary Kenyan athletics coach John Velzian dies at 94
- RIP Kenya’s 1968 Olympic Steeplechase Silver Medalist Benjamin Kogo, 77 Kogo was the first Kenyan to run the steeple at the Olympics when he placed 5th in 1964. He had a 8:31.6 PB.
*Kenyan Media Pays Tribute To Benjamin Kogo They report that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer a year ago.
Proof They Actually Run Real XC In Kenya
The big one is on, the senior women's 10km race. World marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich leading the pack. pic.twitter.com/Jdhx2Ao1QD— Athletics Kenya (@athletics_kenya) January 22, 2022
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