Cade Flatt Says He’s The Greatest US HS 800 Runner Ever and He’ll Try To Prove it Friday Night in Philly
By Weldon Johnson, LetsRun.com
June 16, 2022
On May 31, 1996, Bell Gardens High School senior Michael Granville ran 1:46.45 for 800m in the prelims at the CIF California state meet to set the US high school record. Twenty-six years later, no American high schooler has run faster.
That could change Friday at 7:14 p.m. ET when high school senior Cade Flatt of Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky., (population 4,756) toes the line in the 800 at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia. And it will change if you believe what Flatt has been saying over the last few months.
Two months ago, after Flatt ran 1:47.04 and almost beat 2022 NCAA indoor mile champ Mario Garcia Romo, Flatt tweeted out, “In 2 months time I rewrite history,” noting that all the faster 800m times by high schoolers were run in June.
After he ran 1:46.51 to just miss Granville’s record last month at the Trials of Miles Meet in NYC, Flatt said, “I think I’m the best (high schooler) ever.”
His big chance to prove it comes on Friday night.
Cade, who was the guest on this week’s Track Talk podcast, did not try to lower expectations when asked what the goal is on Friday.
He wants to blow the record out of the park.
(We encourage you to listen to Cade on the podcast here on your favorite podcast app or in the podcast player above. Cade joins at 110:33).
“I want something that’s gonna last 26 years”
“The goal for this weekend is the record. That’s what we’ve been eyeing….But we’ve been shooting for something way past that record, to be honest, I’m not planning on skimming by so we’ll see what happens, see how it unfolds, but yeah, I’m ready. I’m ready for it,” he said. “I’m not really planning on running 1:46.44, so I want something real fast. I want something impressive. I want something that’s gonna last 26 years, like the previous one.”
Cockiness, confidence, chutzpah. Whatever you want to call it, Cade Flatt definitely has it. He doesn’t just deliver on the track, he talks a big game off of it.
It probably helps that Cade is faster than everyone else, but he insists the confidence comes from his competitiveness.
“I’ve always been a competitive person. You can ask my siblings, my brother, my dad, whether it’s track and field or basketball or cornhole, we’re talking to each other and [I’m] letting them know who’s the best,” he said.
Cade’s start in running
Cade got an untraditional start in the running world. Occasionally, when Cade or his older brother Bryce were misbehaving or bouncing off the walls, their dad Stephen would send them out for a run.
Running truly was punishment. Cade, being younger, would be told to run roughly a mile — to a neighbor’s mailbox and back. Bryce initially would go farther, close to three miles. But as Cade got older he started going the longer distance and it would get competitive with Bryce. This tale does not have a happy ending. Bryce showed no mercy to his younger brother and according to Cade, would “get the best of me every single time,” sometimes leaving Cade in tears.
Cade’s initial foray into proper track and field only went slightly better. At youth track in sixth grade, Cade was told to run the mile and do the high jump (Cade’s dad is 6’7”, so not a bad choice). Cade said he loved the high jump and hated the mile.
Fortunately, the coach put him in the 800 in the next meet, and Cade says he ran 2:26, which someone told him was the top time in the country for 6th graders. He wasn’t so sure, but by the end of the year he had lowered it all the way to 2:08. The 800 was his event.
And it still is. When asked if he’s more of a sprinter or a distance runner, Cade didn’t fall for the bait, “I just consider myself an 800 guy to be honest, just a pure 800 specialist.”
Cade’s low-mileage training
Cade most definitely doesn’t train like a distance runner. A few weeks ago, a big discussion started up on the the messageboard of LetsRun after a visitor heard Cade say on the Beer Mile Podcast that he only runs at most 15 miles per week. He said “Easy runs are boring” and “we don’t do easy runs.”
When asked by LetsRun.com if he really runs 15 miles per week, Cade said that upon further review he actually runs less.
“That was a lie. And I didn’t know I was lying about it at the time, when I came out there and said that I did that, but I went back and looked at my training and kind of went through just random weeks. And I couldn’t find one [week] over five miles,” he said.
He continued on, “I had a week where I hit three. I had a week where I hit four and I had a week where I hit five and I couldn’t find one over five the rest of the season.”
There is no GPS watch or Strava account to confirm any of this, as Cade is definitely old school. In an era of high schoolers having pro coaches on the side, training at altitude, Cade is coached by 31-year-old Andrew Johnston.
Cade explained Coach Johnston’s coaching background, “His background is English teacher. He helped coach football for the longest time. He’s just a great guy. He’s really young. That’s his background. He doesn’t really have a coaching background.”
“I’m on that English teacher training and it’s working so [we’re] sticking to it.”
Cade said his 5-mile weeks don’t count his 300m warm-up. When asked for a sample week, Cade responded via text:
Monday is typically my “volume” day
Tuesday is speed
Wednesday is workout day
Thursday is off
Friday will typically be pre-meet or a speed day
And Saturday will be a lighter workout or a meet
We spoke to Cade on a Monday, and he said he went for a 10-minute jog, super easy, and that was maybe a mile.
The longest run of his life was 7 miles in cross country, and it wasn’t something he enjoyed.
Going for high school 800 history
Friday night at Franklin Field, Cade only needs to run 800m, and with the exception of a rabbit, he expects to be all alone in his quest to run 800m faster than any other high schooler in America.
“To be honest, I don’t think anybody’s crazy enough to be with me at after 500. We’ll just have to see how it shakes out. I’m not too familiar with the field. If I’m being honest, if I’m going out there to break the national record and going to run the fastest time ever ran, then there shouldn’t be anybody in front of me anyway,” said Flatt.
In a year where Will Sumner has run 1:46.53, the 3rd fastest high school 800m time ever, a Flatt-Sumner matchup will not take place. Cade wishes that was not the case. Months ago he was on the record saying, “I am not scared to race anybody, anytime, anywhere, or at any level.”
But in an era where there are three different high school national meets, Cade accepts the reality that track and field fans won’t see a historic high school 800m matchup.
“I wish we could get together and they just pull it in and say, ‘Hey, this is the national championships.’ One brand takes it over. Whatever. I don’t care, but it sucks,” says Cade on the disjointed high school national scene.
What’s crazy is Sumner is running an 800 a couple of hours later on Friday night out on the West Coast (6:30 p.m. Pacific, so 9:30 p.m. ET), against the pros including Cooper Teare and Cole Hocker as part of an elite 800 that is being run in the midst Nike’s HS national meet. So it’s possible Flatt breaks the record and it lasts for only a few hours, but then Flatt himself will get the chance to break it again when he races the pros a week later.
Taking on the big boys at USAs next weekend
Fortunately, at the senior level, there is only one national championship, the USATF Nationals which are next weekend at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. And Cade intends to be there running the senior meet against the pros.
Yes, he’s skipping the chance to qualify for the U20 Worlds to take on the best in America.
“I think that I’m in shape to run something pretty fast. I think getting into that final would be huge” said Cade.
While Cade said it would be “a big honor” to make the U20 Worlds team, the senior nationals is a much bigger stage.
“I think that lining up with the best in the world while I have the opportunity as a high school kid, I think that’s something special. And for the Marshall County community, seeing me on TV, things like that’s a pretty big deal for them too,” said Cade of the county he lives in, total population 31,225, tucked in the southwest corner of Kentucky, two hours from the nearest city, Nashville.
TV and USAs will have to wait a week, as up first is Cade’s trip to Philadelphia and his final high school-only race. Besides the opportunity to break the high school record, Cade is pumped because Philadelphia is home to the Rocky movies.
Cade, known for wearing an MMA type jacket with “FLATT” on the back before races, will be making the run up the Rocky steps. His Rocky underdog moment will have to wait a week until he takes on the big boys at USAs.
This week Cade is the favorite. He’s performing the role of another brash, big-talking, big-performing, Kentucky native: Muhammad Ali.
Listen to the full Cade Flatt podcast here on your favorite podcast app or in the podcast player below. (Cade joins at 110:33))