Another HS'er sub 4

By the time Michael Slagowski hit the last lap in the elite mile at the Jesuit Twilight Relays on Friday night, he was running on fumes.

But the senior from Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian, Idaho, also was face to face with the Holy Grail for distance runners – the four-minute mile.

“My legs were burning, and I was already super tired,” Slagowski said. “I just kind of forgot about it. The backstretch was just completely lined up with people screaming. It definitely was a lot of adrenaline. It was awesome.”

The Penn State-bound Slagowski didn’t disappoint the crowd, finishing in 3:59.53 to become the ninth high school runner ever to break the four-minute barrier. It was a stunning performance by Slagowski, who shaved six seconds off the personal best that he set April 16 at the Pasco Invitational.

“It wasn’t really on my mind to do it this meet until I ran the 4:05 at Pasco two weeks ago,” he said. “I was hoping to get into a pro race later in the season, and have a good shot at doing it there. But after I ran that 4:05, I just thought for sure that I could put up a fight for it here."

Said Rocky Mountain distance coach Bob Hays: “It rained all day long and we were questionable if he could pull it off, but he did.”

Senior Jack Yearian of Bellarmine Prep (Wash.) ran a strong 4:06.33 in finishing second, but was far behind the streaking Slagowski. West Linn senior Roman Ollar was the top Oregon runner, placing fourth in 4:11.00.

“I was really confident,” Slagowski said. “I hadn’t been feeling very good a few days earlier, but today I woke up and I was feeling great. … I could tell by my workouts that I could at least get really close. That was definitely my goal.”

Slagowski has posted the best times in the nation in the 800 and 1,600 meters this season, and now he is No. 1 in the mile, too. He is the fourth high school runner to break four minutes in the last year, a group that includes Summit graduate Matthew Maton.

“It’s becoming like the new standard for high school runners,” Slagowski said. “It’s awesome to be able to join that club. I definitely never thought I’d be here, my freshman and sophomore year.”

Hays said Slagowski has come a long way from his sophomore year, when he wasn’t fully committed to running.

“He was skipping stuff and not doing what he needed to do,” Hays said. “We had a long talk about what he needed to do to be better, be elite. And he kind of took that to heart.

“From there, we just started building over the years. It’s him just being willing to do what I ask him to do. We upped his mileage. We’ve been doing tempo runs on Sundays. Once we started going seven days a week, he really started to improve.”

Hays sees a big future for Slagowski at Penn State.

“The sky is the limit for him,” Hays said. “I think he’ll be a fantastic college 1,500-meter guy.”

Jim Ryun was the first high schooler to go sub-four, doing it 52 years ago in 1964. Tim Danielson went sub-4 in 1966, and Marty Liquori the year after than and then there was a 34-year drought until Alan Webb in 2001. Another decade passed until Lukas Verzbicas (not a U.S. citizen at the time ) got the ball rolling again in 2011, and then we only had to wait four years until two guys went sub-4 last year (Matthew Maton and Grant Fisher). Now two more have done it this year (Drew Hunter and Slagowski). We’d be surprised from here on out if wasn’t broken almost every year. If Ryun could do it 52 years ago when very little was understood about training, the more recent performances should become the norm.

The high school sub-4 list via Idaho Statesman.
Alan Webb, 3:53.43 (2001)
Jim Ryun, 3:55.3 (1965)
Drew Hunter, 3:57.81 (2016)
Matthew Maton, 3:59.38 (2015)
Grant Fisher, 3:59.38 (2015)
Tim Danielson, 3:59.4 (1966)
Michael Slagowski, 3:59.53 (2016)
Lukas Verzbicas, 3:59.71 (2011)
Marty Liquori, 3:59.8 (1967)