Luke Tewalt knows the exact moment he felt a special connection with track and field.
The moment came this summer in Sacramento, California, running with his AAU team -- DC Speed -- at the USATF Junior Nationals.
"That's when I really fell in love with track," said Tewalt, a rising sophomore with Washington Latin Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. " I saw my times go down from there. I've been grinding it out since then."
Tewalt followed up that performance with his first national title on Tuesday at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Ypsilanti, Michigan, winning the 14-year-olds 1500m run in a time of 4:13.57, which was also a three-second personal record and a U.S. No. 22 mark for freshmen this year.
"Going into the race I just had to execute, as my coaches would say," Tewalt said.
Leading from start to finish, the 14-year-old took command down the homestretch in the first 300 meters, maneuvering around two lanes of traffic in the process.
He reached the 1100 meter mark at 3:07 and raced the final 400m in 66 seconds for the win.
"Going into the race, I wanted to get out as fast as I could," Tewalt said. "I knew you start at the 100m meter mark. There was a big stretch where I had to get in first. Unfortunately, I got boxed in. So I had to go out into lane six in order to get out of the pack."
Tewalt's week won't end there. He ran a preliminary leg of 2:05.45, which gets him into the final, and is seeded first in Friday's 3000m. His 9:07.15 seed time, in fact, could grab him a national record.
If Tewalt runs up to form, he'll challenge the 2005 record of 9:14.13, which is held by Florida's Connor Revord.
"I'm more of a distance guy," he said. "I'll be running in the 3000m and that's where I hope to get a national record."