2014 NBNI Previews: Boys Distances

by Steve Underwood

Fifth in a series.

BOYS’ 800 METER RUN

(scroll down for boys’ 1 mile, 2 mile, 5,000 meter and 1 mile racewalk)

National Record:  1:49.21  Robby Andrews  NJ  2009
Meet Record:  1:49.94  Ben Malone  NJ  2012

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
1:51.36  Jeffrey Wiseman  PA  (US#2)
1:53.15  Derek Holdsworth  VA  (US#4)
1:53.24*  Terrell Jackson  TN  (US#6*)
1:53.27  James Buser  NY  (US#5)
1:53.76  Joseph White  NJ  (US#6)
1:54.05  William Cather  PA  (US#7)
(*=oversized track; ranking includes all tracks)

Top entries with 1k times
2:25.80  Liam Purdy  NY  (US#2)
2:26.11  Everest Crawford  MA  (US#3)
2:26.94  Kenneth Hagen  VA  (US#5)

(based on career 800 best, in or out)
1:50.51**  Joseph White  NJ
1:51.13**  Robert Ford  TX
1:51.36  Jeffrey Wiseman  PA
1:51.85**  Jordon Wallin  ID
1:52.21***  James Buser  NJ
1:52.98**  Kenneth Hagen  VA
(**=2013 outdoor, ***=2013 indoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(no returnees)
1  Nathan Kiley  13  VA  1:51.37
2  Chris Ibarra  13  TX  1:51.40
3  Tretez Kinnaird  13  KY  1:51.50
4  Jacob Clark  13  NJ  1:51.52
5  Ben Malone  13  NJ  1:51.91
6  James Buser  14  NJ  1:52.21
Top returnees
10  Jeffrey Wiseman  14  PA  1:54.04
14  Jordon Wallin  14  ID  1:54.71

Analysis
When one thinks of NBNI 800s, two races come immediately to mind:  The fast, deep 2012 800 that saw the epic winning 1:49.94 by then-junior Ben Malone from New Jersey; then the crazy, more tactical final last year with Malone 4th behind a blanket Section 3 finish that saw Chris Iberra cross first in 1:51.40 and Section 2 winner Nathan Kiley of Virginia emerge as the overall victor.

In 2014, there isn’t quite the level of 1:49-1:50 talent we’ve seen recently, but there certainly is a tight, fast group at the top of 1:50-52 performers – and some blazing 1,000-meter performers mixed in.  In fact, it’s that mix that should make this a very intriguing race.  In the states that feature 1k races, the final two weeks of the regular season saw four athletes run 2:26.12 or better – entering into the all-time list between #8 and #15.  Our 800 field includes two of them:  New York state champ Liam Purdy (North Rockland senior) at 2:25.80 (Section meet) and New Englands champ Everest Crawford (Gloucester, MA junior) at 2:26.11.  And there’s also Blacksburg, VA senior Kenneth Hagen, who has 1:52.98 800 creds from 2013 outdoor and also won the New Balance Collegiate 1k in 2:26.94 in early February.  Of course, he’ll be anchoring his school’s top-ranked 4x800 quartet as well.

This all is hardly to say that there aren’t top contenders among the runners who contest 800 indoors.  In fact, if you’re going to name a favorite, it should probably be Jeffrey Wiseman, the US#2 1:51.36 Council Rock, PA senior who was 2nd in his state meet behind Kyle Francis (not entered).  Wiseman repped Team NSAF at the Caribbean Scholastic Invite last June and was 3rd behind Kiley last March in that NBNI 800 Section 2.  Like Hagen, he has great speed.

But these guys are all capable of winning it, too: 

  • James Buser (Mahwah, NJ senior) was 3rd in his NJ MOC, but then won Eastern States in US#5 1:53.27.  He was actually 2nd behind Kiley at 2013 NBNI with his still-standing 1:52.21 PR;
  • Rising star Derek Holdsworth (Lafayette, VA senior) ran a solo 1:53.15 last month and then just last weekend won the 1k at the new VA MOC with a 2:28.09;
  • Joseph White (DePaul, NJ senior) won that NJ MOC race, then had his seasonal best of 1:53.76 in getting 2nd to Buser at Easterns.  But note that he ran 1:50.51 for 5th at NBNO last spring – the best overall time of any entrant – and has 48-second 400 wheels.

Finally, the final section runners will again have to pay attention to the earlier sections, as there’s plenty of talent to fear.  Robert Ford (San Antonio Johnson, TX senior) and Jordon Wallin (Rocky Mountain, ID senior) are both in the 1:54s so far this year, but ran 1:51s last spring – in fact, Ford made the World Youth team.  Didn’t we say this would be an extremely interesting event?


BOYS’ 1 MILE RUN

National Record:  3:59.86  Alan Webb  VA  2001
Meet Record:  4:05.50  Alex Hatz  NY  2010

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best; ranking is 1600/mile fusion)
4:08.96  Luke Gavigan  15  NY (US#1)
4:11.68**  Ricky Faure  14  WY (US#5)
4:12.71  Ian Midler  14  NC  (US#7)
4:12.78**  Grant Fisher  14  MI  (US#8)
4:12.91  Garrett O’Toole  14  MA  (US#9)
4:13.15*  Wesley Pectol  14  TN  (US#10)
(**=1600m X 1.0058, *=oversized track; ranking includes all tracks)

(based on career best, in or out)
4:08.29***  Garrett O’Toole  14  MA
4:08.73***  Grant Fisher  14  MI
4:08.96  Luke Gavigan  15  NY
4:10.88****  Austin Tamagno  16  CA
4:11.68**  Ricky Faure  14  WY
4:11.73#  Sam Ritz  14  PA
(***=2013 outdoor 1500m X 1.08; ****=2013 outdoor 1600 X 1.0058
#=2013 outdoor mile)

2013 NBNI Top 6
1  Henry Wynne  13  CT  4:08.15
2  Trevor Gilley  13  TX  4:08.37
3  Brock Baker  13  TN  4:09.43
4  Connor Mora  13 MI  4:10.28
5  James Randon  13  MA  4:11.12
6  Vincent Ciattei  13  MD  4:11.77
(no key returnees)

Analysis
For all of the talent in this field, the fact is that if form holds, the true contenders can be reduced to a relatively small group.  Two athletes, in particular, have done enough recently to make themselves relatively strong favorites:  Luke Gavigan and Grant Fisher.

Gavigan (Tappan Zee, NY junior), with a strong 4:18.45 runner-up mile in the NBNI Emerging Elite mile last March, was still pretty unknown outside of New York until he won the Millrose Qualifier in January at 4:15.68.  A month later, he made eyes really open and jaws drop with his US#1 4:08.96 winner at the Millrose Games.  He followed it up nicely, then, with a 4:11.21 state meet 1,600 triumph.  Fisher (Grand Blanc, MI senior), meanwhile, won the penultimate section of the NBNO mile last June and began to emerge nationally.  He made the World Youth team in the 1,500 and 3k and, along with Blake Haney, truly impressed in Donetsk in making the 1,500 final (7th, 3:50.30).  Fisher kept rolling in the fall, with an unbeaten campaign that culminated in the Foot Locker national title.  This winter has been relatively low-key, as he’s stayed in-state, but a 4:11.32 1,600 win on a slow track at state seems to show he’s ready to race for a title.

Then these five are probably the next best contenders to win or at least make the top three:

  • Ricky Faure (Rock Springs, WY senior), who was a 1:50 800/4:15 mile performer last spring, then broke through with a 4:10.22 meet record 1,600 win at Simplot;
  • Garrett O’Toole (Middlesex, MA senior), an experienced racer who’s primarily made his mark in collegiate/open races, including a 3:49.89 1,500 last spring and 4:12.91 mile this winter.  Also has shown 2:29.52 1k / 8:29.27 3k range in 2014.  He’s also entered in the 2M, however, so he’d either likely be very fatigued in this race or just choose one of the two;
  • Ian Milder (Mt. Tabor, NC senior), who was a Foot Locker finalist then a double indoor state champ (4:21/9:18 for 16/32) with a 4:17 1,600 best – then broke through with his 4:12.91 mile PR in an open/collegiate race himself.  He also opened eyes with an 8:58 3,200 last fall in a track prep race for Foot Locker South;
  • James Burke (Port Jefferson, NY junior), who – like Gavigan – has really emerged this winter in the Empire State, taking 2nd to Gavigan at state with 4:11.82 1,600 and 5th at Millrose with 4:13.86;
  • and Wesley Pectol (Greeneville, TN senior), who has exploded indoors with 4:16.45 and 4:13.15 mile victories in big meets on oversized tracks in Tennessee and Kentucky, and this after never breaking 4:21 previously.

Finally, two extremely intriguing names are in the first (“slowest”) section of the mile.  One is Austin Tamagno, the Brea-Olinda, CA soph whose 4:09.43 1,600 set a frosh class HSR last spring.  His only race this winter has been a 4:19.93 mile win at the CA state indoor.  Can he run fast enough to place overall?  The other is Sam Ritz, the Germantown Academy, PA senior who went 4:11.73 last spring for a mile, but has struggled to regain form this winter.


BOYS’ 2 MILE RUN

National Record:  8:39.15  Edward Cheserek  NJ  2013
Meet Record:  8:40.70  Lukas Verzbicas  IL  2011

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best; rankings are 3200/2M fusion, except for 3k rankings)
9:00.29  Christian Alvarado  14  CT  (US#1)
9:04.16**  Dan Curts  14  ME  (US#1 8:23.85 3k)
9:05.79**  Charles Cooper  14  CAN  (8:25.36 3k)
9:08.31*  Brian Cook  14  NY  (US#5)
9:09.44  Conner Mantz  15  UT  (US#7)
9:10.02**  Garrett O’Toole  14  MA  (US#2 8:29.27 3k)
(*=3200 x 1.0058, **=3k x 1.08)

(based on career best, in or out; 3200 x 1.0058, 3k x 1.08)
8:57.39*  Aaron Templeton  14  TN (8:54.29 3200)
8:58.52**  Kyle Levermore  14  NJ (8:55.41 3200)
9:00.29  Christian Alvarado  14  CT
9:00.30**  Mickey Burke  14  NY
9:02.94**  Tim McGowan  14  NY (8:59.81 3200)
9:04.16  Dan Curts  14  ME (8:23.85 3k)
(*=fall 2013, **=2013 outdoor)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(top registered returnees in bold)
1  Edward Cheserek  13  NJ  8:59.00
2  Sean McGorty  13  VA  9:02.02
Aaron Templeton  14  TC  9:02.36
4  Bakri Abushouk  13  NC  9:03.53
Thomas O'Neill  14 NJ  9:06.40
6  Eric Holt  13  NY  9:07.55
Additional top returnees
Austin Sprague  14  GA  9:11.30
11  Garrett O’Toole  14  MA  9:14.81
19  Dan Curts  14  ME  9:19.22

Analysis
With a mix of athletes with outstanding 3k/3,200/2M times this winter, plus a few key super-talented runners who have raced infrequently or are trying to get back to form, handicapping the boys’ 2M is trickier than most events.

If they can continue to ride the crest of the way that was their recent PRs, then a pair of New Englanders might have the inside track to victory.  Christian Alvarado (Fairfield Prep, CT senior) was a 9:07 3,200 runner last spring, then a Foot Locker finalist in the fall, and was at 4:16.27y and 9:20 for the mile and 3,200 until the past few weeks.  Then he won his state 3,200 in 9:07.63, the New England 2M in a US#1 9:00.29, then ran a PR 4:13.86 mile in an open last chance meet.  Also rising fast has been Dan Curts (Ellsworth, ME senior).  Coming off his own decent junior year spring (9:15 3200) and Foot Locker finalist senior year fall, he was under the radar this winter until US#1 8:23.85 3k at USATF New Englands (open) three weeks ago.  He followed that with a third-place finish behind Alvarado and Alex Ostberg in the aforementioned New England HS deuce with 9:07.24.

Of the many others who’ve run well this winter, here are seven who particularly seem like good candidates for 9:05 or better:

  • Canadian standout Charles Cooper, who clocked an 8:25.36 3k in December and in February a 4:12.01 for 2nd at the New Balance Boston Indoor Games Jr Mile;
  • Brian Cook (Pearl River, NY senior), who won the NY Feds XC meet, ran a stunning 9:05.14 3,200 PR at his Section 1 meet in mid-February, then wound up 5th in the state 3,200;
  • Garrett O’Toole (Middlesex, MA senior), who has a US#2 8:29.27 3k to his credit, but is also entered in the mile;
  • Conner Mantz (Sky View, UT junior), a Foot Locker finalist who was 2nd in the New Balance Boise 2M with a 9:09.44, then 3rd at Simplot.  He’s also entered in Friday’s 5,000, so it’s up in the air which he’ll pick, if not both;
  • Josef Holt-Andrews (Telstar, ME senior), another standout from Maine who after finishing 10th at Foot Locker Finals last fall has hit 8:30.20 for 3k in the race where Curts ran 8:23;
  • Paul Hogan (Burlington, MA senior), who ran a 9:11.77 in late January, worked on cutting down his mile PR for a month, and is now back at the deuce looking for low 9s or better.  He’s also entered in Friday’s 5,000, so it’s up in the air which he’ll pick, if not both;
  • Tim McGowan (Northport, NY senior), who is part of a powerhouse that will be seeking a DMR win as well, and has run 9:07.80 for 3,200 (NY state champ) and 4:10.28 for a mile (2nd Millrose) after an 8:59.81 (2nd NY state) last spring

And as if that’s not enough, consider these three talented athletes who either haven’t contested the distance yet this winter or have great previous-season times that they’re chasing:

  • Aaron Templeton (Hardin Valley Acad., TN senior), who was 3rd here last year in 9:02.36, then unbeaten in the fall through Foot Locker South before a disappointing 9th in the Finals.  Prepping for FL South, he clocked an 8:54.29 3,200 on the track.  This winter, though, he’s just raced once, taking 6th in the U. Kentucky mile at 4:17.77.  He’s also entered in Friday’s 5,000, so it’s up in the air which he’ll pick, if not both;
  • Thomas O’Neill (Middletown, NJ senior), who last winter was 5th here with 9:06.40 after a 9:02.00 3,200 to win NJ MOC, but this winter has a best of 9:17.92.
  • Mickey Burke (Rush-Henrietta, NY senior), who is listed in the first (slowest) section of the deuce, having not raced it this winter.  He was 4th last spring in the NBNO 2M at 9:00.30 and then 4th at Foot Locker Finals this past fall.  This winter, however, he’s raced only shorter races with a 4:14.76 1,600 best.  If he’s still fit and motivated, he could make the medal stand even if it’s a solo effort.

BOYS’ 5,000 METER RUN

National Record:  13:57.04  Edward Cheserek  NJ  2012
Meet Record:  14:06.78  Lukas Verzbicas  IL  2011

2013 NBNI Top 6
(top registered returnees in bold)
Elijah Armstrong  15  ID  14:54.27
2  Max Norris  13  PA  14:55.41
3  Estevan De La Rosa  14  CA  14:56.39
4  Trevor Sleight  13  NC  15:01.74
5  Conner Sheryak  13  KY  15:05.20
6  Nate Sullivan  13  TX  15:07.36
Additional top returnees
Stephen Garrett  15  DE  15:09.20

Analysis
Since many top entrants haven’t raced 5k on a track before, it’s more useful to talk about the leading contenders accomplishments at other distances here, rather than lists for other distances.

There’s no question, though, who deserves the favorite’s role.  Defending champion Elijah Armstrong (Pocatello, ID junior), who captured the title as a sophomore last winter, has continued to get better each season  Outdoors last spring, he was 3rd in the NBNO 5k with a big PR 14:28.97 (although his frosh year 3,200 PR of 9:04.78 still stands).  In the fall, he made his first Foot Locker Finals and got 6th.  Then this winter, he has hit an indoor 2M PR of 9:08.60.  He knows how to race 5k on the track and it’s tough to pick against him.

Six others most worth watching:

  • Ben Huffman (Providence Day, NC senior), who won Great American ROC last fall, ran a track 3,200 in late November to prep for Foot Locker South and hit 8:58.84, got 2nd at FL South and 22nd in the Finals, and has raced sparingly this winter with a 4:18 mile best;
  • Alex Ostberg (Darien, CT junior), who took 10th at FL Finals during a great fall for him, then was 2nd to Christian Alvarado at both CT states 3,200 with a 9:10.30 and then New England’s 2M with 9:02.74;
  • Aaron Templeton (Hardin Acad., TN senior), who (as mentioned above) is entered in both the 2M and 5,000.  He was 3rd here last year in the 2M at 9:02.36, then unbeaten in the fall through Foot Locker South before getting 9th in the Finals.  Before FL South, he ran an 8:54.29 track 3,200.  This winter, a 6th in the U. Kentucky mile at 4:17.77 is his only race;
  • Conner Mantz (Sky View, UT junior), who (as mentioned above) is entered in both the 2M and 5,000.  He was a Foot Locker finalist last fall (7th), who was 2nd in the New Balance Boise 2M with a 9:09.44, then 3rd at Simplot in the 3,200;
  • Colin Martin (Fox Chapel, PA senior), who is coming off a big PR victory at state in the 3k with 8:30.82 after just missing FL Finals in the fall;
  • and Paul Hogan (Burlingon, MA senior), who is yet another 2M/5k doubler (as mentioned above) and has run 9:11.77 for 2M this winter after missing out on FL Finals.

BOYS’ 1 MILE RACEWALK

National Record:  6:03.48  Trevor Barron  PA  2010
Meet Record:  6:06.13  Trevor Barron  PA  2010

Top 6 Entrants
(based on 2013 indoor best)
6:41.0h  Anthony Peters  14  IL
6:59.0h  Geraldo Flores  15  TX
7:04.50  Cameron Haught  17  OH
7:30.30  Spencer Dunn  16  ME
7:52.22  Jack Lazor  15  CT
7:56.2h  Matias Serna  16  TX
(h=hand time)

(based on career best, in or out)
6:37.96*  Anthony Peters  14  IL
6:47.70*  Alexander Peters  14  IL
6:59.0h  Geraldo Flores  15  TX
7:04.50  Cameron Haught  17  OH
7:15.5h**  Spencer Dunn  16  ME
7:34.43**  Matias Serna  16  TX
(*=2013 indoors, **=2013 outdoors)

2013 NBNI Top 6
(top registered returnees in bold)
1  Marek Adamowicz  15  CAN  6:34.35
Anthony Peters  14  IL  6:37.96
Alexander Peters  14  IL  6:47.70
Geraldo Flores  14  TX  7:20.01
Spencer Dunn  16  ME  7:36.55
6  Cliff Tilley  16  MD  7:47.61
Additional top returnees
Jack Lazor  15 CT  7:58.85

Analysis
With 2013 Canadian champ Marek Adamowicz not returning, twins Anthony and Alexander Peters (Bartlett, IL seniors) – the 2-3 finishers from last year – look to be the favorites.  The competition has closed the gap, with Geraldo Flores (Pharr, TX junior) now under 7:00 and young Cameron Haught (Yellow Springs, OH frosh) at 7:04.50 potentially making it a good 4-way race.

It should mentioned that the mile distance is relatively uncommon for most of the boys’ walkers at the elite level, with most of them contesting 3,000m to 10,000m distances outdoors.  Alexander Peters topped the U.S. lists at 3k, 5k and 10k last year.

(thanks to Michael Roth and his site hsrw.net for ranking and list info)


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