By Cory Mull, MileSplit
SOUTHLAKE, TX -- Whatever pressure or anxiety existed in the lead-up to the boys elite 5K at the Texas Distance Festival on Saturday, it all floated away after that first lap on Saturday.
In a field that included some of the nation's best, Alameda St. Joseph Notre Dame (Ca.) High's Cooper Teare ran away in a blistering final lap at Southlake Carroll High to drop a nation-best 14:13, which became the fastest high school boys 5K since 2013.
"I think that was right where we expected," said Teare, who ran his first outdoor 5K and clipped 25 seconds off his previous best in the event. "Sub-14 was definitely something that was talked about. I didn't know how realistic it was, but I'm happy with the time. I'm happy we ran with all these guys. Without them, it would have been closer to 14:30."
Teare's final lap close was thunderous.
"He left with 1K to go and he dropped us all," said Carlisle (Pa.) High's Noah Affolder, who finished third in 14:18. "We were standing still."
Teare, who was less than a week off a win at New Balance Nationals Indoor in the 1-mile in a personal best 4:06.60, began to surge past Cardinal Gibbons (NC) High's Connor Lane in that time.
"He has a phenomenal finish," said Lane, who was second in 13:17. "I wouldn't do (the race) much differently."
Expectations were certainly met in the race, with the top nine finishers landing a sub-14:38 time, all breaking the meet record that stood the year before at 14:41.
"It's really easy to run that fast of a time when you have the best kids in the country running," Affolder said. "I wasn't looking to push he pace."
The day before, several of the top athletes from out-of-state met at the house of Reed Brown, a two-time runner-up of the event, to catch up and eat a nice pre-race dinner -- Reed finished with an outdoor PR of 14:37 on Saturday.
But it's also there were the group came to a consensus on strategy. "We had a loose plan of taking laps," Lane said. "If someone faded, someone else would step up. I just tried to step up as much as I could."
And that plan, at least early on, was met, with several runners taking the lead at various points.
Affolder went to the front in the first lap before Armijo (Ca.) High's Luis Grijalva controlled a spell. It moved on to Brown, Lane and Teare.
"I led for maybe a lap or a lap and a half late," Affolder said. "I didn't want to make Cooper lead the whole way have someone out kick him."
But after the first 1600m went through in about 4:32, the lead group began to distance itself from the rest in the next 400m.
By the 3200m mark, Affolder, Lane and Teare established control at the top in a blistering 9:08.
"Going through the two mile in 9:10, that's awesome," Teare said. "That gives me a lot of confidence and shows my workouts are working."
Teare, an Oregon signee, continued to make his mark over the last 1800m and proved his status as one of the best distance runners in the country.
"I think it just solidified the goals I want," he said. "I kind of set some lofty goals, sub-4 and sub-8:40. After running last week and PR'ing (in the mile) and running 14:13, it solidifies I have the skill to do that. It makes me want it more. Especially in an event that's not run too often. I wasn't preparing for it. I want to run fast now."
But Lane, a Stanford signee, and Affolder, a future Syracuse Orange, also came away with surefire confidence after stellar runs.
Lane, in particular, may have helped his Q-score the most after the runner-up finish.
"In reality, it's no big deal," he said. "It's only up to the kids in the race, the outcome in it. But as long as I'm in the field, I know I'm going to have a shot in it."
Affolder said he's going to use the performance as a motivational tool for training.
"I definitely feel like it's a confidence booster for my goals this year, breaking 4 and breaking 8:40," he said. "I feel confident now going back to Pennsylvania and getting solid training in."