David Melville wasn't quite comfortable with the early pace of Foot Locker Nationals on Saturday in San Diego, so after 400 meters he decided to take matters into his own hands.
The Northern Guilford (NC) High senior and Harvard recruit made a quick surge on the outside about 90 seconds into the race, pulling in front of the field at Balboa Park.
"I really thought I'd be in the back half of the race, even 800 meters in," said Melville, who led for about a minute after taking the lead. "The rush of adrenaline (you get) when you're leading a national championship, it's kind of like, you get that adrenaline."
It wasn't exactly part of his race plan.
"I found myself in the front somehow," he said. "I wasn't necessarily planning on that, but I felt like the pace was a little too slow and somebody needed to go or else it would have come down to a kick. That's not really where my strengths are."
The move ultimately woke up the field, which started to jostle new leaders into the mix several times over the next mile, and Melville kept in reach most of the way.
He ultimately finished 20th overall in 15:59.20, which was a solid result overall.
"I'm happy with that," he said.
A year after qualifying for NXN and finishing 63rd, Melville closed his cross country career at Foot Locker. It finished a season in which he was ninth at Foot Locker South, second in the Class 5A North Carolina championships, and fourth at Great American, where he ran a PR of 15:03.80.
When Melville began high school, though, he thought he was going to compete in another sport.
"It's really been incredible," he said. "It's been a whirlwind past four years. Because my first cross country race, I wasn't planning on being a runner in high school. I was planning on going into wrestling. So when it came to cross country my freshman year, things went so well and it was a big mental shift to just focusing on running three seasons out of the year. Once I focused on that, things started happening."
And at least for a minute on Saturday, he led the nation in a national championship.
"I think everybody was a little scared to take it, so I was like, 'All right, somebody has to do it,'" Melville said. "I couldn't see why not."