"Unfortunately, when you have a record like mine that's so old, there's going to be two trains of thought. There will be a group of people who will want it to last forever because they consider it to be iconic. And then there will be a group of people who want it broken because they hate to see it and they want it destroyed." -- Craig Virgin
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By Cory Mull - Milesplit
Craig Virgin wants to start off by saying he does not doubt the ability, or the monumental performance, of Newbury Park High School's Nico Young at the most recent Woodbridge Cross Country Classic.
"I want to commend this young man," Virgin, 64, said recently by phone. "He set a goal for himself and not many people go out on a limb like that and follow through so remarkably. It's reminiscent of Muhammad Ali."
In running an official and stunning time of 13:39.70 for three miles at Silverlakes Sports Complex in Norco, California, Young surpassed Virgin's national-best three mile time of 13:50.60, which he accomplished at the Illinois State Cross Country Championships in 1972 at Detweiller Park.
Virgin isn't doubting the course marking. He's not doubting the race directors in California.
"I'm not casting any aspersions there," he said.
But as the former record-holder looking at a new record, one that took 47 years to break, he believes it's reasonable to ask for a few verifications. He wants the course, which was measured at a full three miles, to be verified by a third party official.
Read: Nico Young Produces National Best At Woodbridge For Three Miles
It would be one thing if the record was achieved at a dual meet or a small invitational, Virgin said. But because it was achieved in southern California -- one of the more prominent producers of cross country talent annually -- and because it was a prestigious event, and because there were thousands of people on the course over two days, and because this record will likely be marketed to effect in future versions, it will be held with respect.
Young didn't just break Virgin's record. He absolutely shattered it, becoming the first high school runner to go under 13:40. Virgin believes that alone deserves some post-record calculation.
"Unfortunately, when you have a record like mine that's so old, there's going to be two trains of thought," Virgin said. "There will be a group of people who will want it to last forever because they consider it to be iconic. And then there will be a group of people who want it broken because they hate to see it and they want it destroyed."
Comparing times in cross country isn't always an easy task, considering every course is different. Some will say the fast times of Woodbridge are aided by the soccer fields the race is held on. Virgin will argue that it's nothing like the hills runners endure at Detweiller Park in Illinois -- there's a reason his record has stood so long, he says.
A few talented individuals over the past few decades have tried and come up short of Virgin's mark. In 2007, Neuqua Valley's Chris Derrick came up agonizingly short, by two seconds. Admirers of that solo effort then cast doubt on Virgin's record themselves, some wondering whether he ran on a short course.
It was later re-measured by a third party and the consensus was that Virgin still held the record.
In 2010, Lukas Verzbicas -- who later became the only athlete to ever win Nike Cross Nationals and Foot Locker Nationals in the same season -- was four seconds shy of the mark.
Only 15 athletes in national high school cross country history have run under 14 minutes for three miles. And it's been decades since most states moved to 5K races, making Virgin's mark a bit more untouchable every year. Athletes with sterling pedigrees like Dathan Ritzenhein, Ryan Hall, Drew Hunter and Edward Cheserek have come along, though none have registered (full) times that have been within the same range at three miles -- Note: Ritzenheim, however, does own the fastest 5K recorded in history, with a 14:10.40 from the Michigan State Cross Country Championships in 2000. Cheserek went 14:18.70 in 2012 and Hunter ran 14:20.80 in 2015.
Woodbridge, meanwhile, has gone through a few different variations and the times have proceeded to ramp up in recent years. Since it moved to Silverlakes Sports Complex in 2016, runners have broken 14 minutes four times. And of the six sub-14 efforts in meet history, every single conversion was recorded after 2013.
Virgin hasn't been out to Woodbridge, so he called some of his contemporaries, including Ruth Wysocki, who was an United States Olympian in 1984 at 800 and 1,500 meters, to get their opinions. She told Virgin, "it's developed a reputation for being lightning fast."
Virgin said he then reached out to officials at Woodbridge High School, though he hasn't heard back.
He knows that by suggesting any doubt on a new record that there could be backlash. But he believes records should be true to form -- they should be verified.
"MileSplit and a couple other organizations are going with the news feed that this was the fastest three mile ever run," Virgin said. "So if it gets that kind of national recognition, I think it would be good for all concerned that it gets the proper ratification."
And yet, Virgin does know one thing. News travels fast nowadays. He says that's ultimately good for the sport, too.
"A kid can run a time like this, and within an hour, the news spreads," he said. "That this young man had run 13:39, it's good. Nowadays if you have a bad race, everyone knows it. If you have a good race, everyone knows it."
Virgin on Young: "This kid is a top talent. I'm really looking forward to his senior year. Him and Cole (Sprout) and a few other kids are really going to have what looks like is going to be a banner senior year. We haven't had this much depth in awhile."
"Interestingly enough, my junior year, if you take his Arcadia performance out, I ran 8:51 my state meet on the heels of a bad cold. And then I came back that afternoon with a 4:09. (Nico's) times are very similar. His times are very similar to what I did my junior year. He's faster by a half a second in the mile."
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Contact MileSplit's Cory Mull at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @bycorymull.