The Best Writing On MileSplit From 2020

An unprecedented year made for some truly remarkable stories in 2020. 

There were moments of triumph and history, tragedy and sorrow, and everything in between. But over the course of this past year, Milesplit sought to tell those stories, in vivid and imaginative detail. Powerful storytelling captured life on and off the track, in ways that aren't often told. 

Since 2017, MileSplit has compiled a compedium of its best work from the given calendar year. You can check out our previous installments here: 2017, 2018, 2019

Which stories were your favorite from 2020? Which moments inspired you? 

Make sure to check out our best work, and make sure to let us know how we're doing. If you have a story to tell, email or your local state editor. 


Features [1] - Profiles [2] - Meet Coverage [3] - Sidebars/Explanatory [4] - Essays/Columns [5] - Q&As [6}


The Drive Of A Lifetime

By Bobby Reyes

The eight shook out their legs and arms under the calm California night, all eyeing some form of history, and in that moment I didn't envy them - my nerves were always the worst while waiting on the starting line.

Spectators in the stands began to clap in unison as the eight on the track crouched tight in their lanes, ready to launch off into this much anticipated mile.

"And they're off! Four minutes to history..."

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Record Pace

By Cory Mull

In August, Cole Sprout and Nico Young found themselves on the country's most Instagram-famous track, surrounded by the best high school runners in the country and flanked, stopwatch in hand, by Bowerman Track Club's Jerry Schumacher, one of the most accomplished American distance coaches of the modern era.

They were just four months removed from arguably the most thrilling 3,200 meter race in high school history, a finish separated by less than a second.

And here they were, training partners.

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Remembering 1987: McFarland Fact vs. Fiction

By Jeffrey Parenti

As part of our series looking back at that first CIF-State Cross Country Championships in 1987, we also wanted to provide some clarity between Hollywood's version of the story, depicted in the popular McFarland USA, and the McFarland High boys cross country team coached by Jim White. 

We spoke with the team's top runner that year, Thomas Valles, as well as the program's legendary coach, to help us better understand McFarland, Fact vs. Fiction. What we are reminded of is that McFarland USA is based on a true story but it is not a documentary. Hollywood's fictional fingers are all over how the story is framed but in the big picture, the film captures the essence of the main characters and the story quite well on the big screen. 

How A Rivalry Sparked PA's Long Jump Golden Era

By Phil Grove

It had all the makings of a championship fight, and it was.

After all, Dion Bentley and Ron Dickerson were and still are the top-ranked heavyweights of the long jump in Pennsylvania and two of the best preps the event has ever seen.

While their meeting in the Penn State Invitational on February 18, 1989, wasn't the first between the friendly rivals, it was the stuff of legend.

A still-standing national record, a pair of indoor PRs for the HS stars and a combined seven jumps at 24 feet, 7.5 inches or longer, a mark that only a handful in state history have accomplished just once before graduating.

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Season Reimagined

By Cory Mull

This wasn't the way your senior season was supposed to end, on this mostly empty track at Parkway Central High School in St. Louis, just a few teammates, their parents and Coach along for the ride.

Neither was this the time trial. No, you wanted to be in that brand, spanking-new stadium in Oregon, racing against legitimate studs. By June, you yearned for the opportunity to compete among the absolute best as an 18-year-old. You wanted to be the youngest American to have performed at the U.S. Olympic Trials at your 400 meter distance.

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Reliving The Greatest 1,000m Race in New York State History

By Kevin Czerwinski

One race. Three local legends. All under the State (and National) Record, that would last 31 years.

The buzz that Miles Irish (Brunt Hills), Mike Stahr (Carmel) and Charlie Marsala (New Dorp) created on Jan. 22, 1983 reverberated around the country. The trio made headlines in national sports sections after putting on one of the most memorable, if not the most memorable, shows in the history of United States high school track. 

Each of the three runners shattered the previous National High School Record for the 1000 meters in an electrifying race at The Yale Invitational. While Irish won the race in 2:24.1 to take ownership of the new record - the previous record of 2:26.35 was set by Ken Lowry in 1982 - Stahr [2:24.2] and Marsala [2:25.9] also eclipsed the previous standard in a race that remains a hot topic of conversation in the track world nearly four decades later. The three would sit atop the New York State All-Time list, order intact, until 2014. Overall Record not dethroned until 2019.

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Fast Fame

How These Young Track And Field Athletes Have Dealt With Their Social Media Buzz

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By Cory Mull

But as these audiences grow, so too does the responsibility, in equal and different ways. High schoolers with dreams of college athletics will have to be aware of lurking companies looking to collaborate for profit off their audiences, while older athletes with inside knowledge of how the NCAA works ultimately will have to be more mindful of just what's acceptable and what's not to post - at least until legislation allows for student-athletes to profit off their likenesses.

While it's true that platforms like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok can help build brands that ultimately help negotiate potential business opportunities down the road for those able to generate mass appeal, there are also drawbacks into what that social investment might cost as a result, from emotional distress to impacts on physical performance in athletics.

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The Impact Of A Lost Season For Track Athletes

By Ashley Tysiac

On April 24, the NCHSAA announced the final cancelation of the remainder of the spring sports season, officially marking the end of the final chapter for high school athletes. For the first time since 1912, not a single athlete will toe the line at the outdoor track and field championships this May. 

For Lillie and countless other athletes, the coronavirus pandemic has forced athletes to create new goals, adapt new routines and mold new attitudes during the difficult times.

"It's turning this negative and horrifying situation into something that's eye opening for the future," Lillie said.

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Mary Cain's Impactul Moments Together With Katelyn Tuohy

By Cory Mull

Mary Cain found herself alone, even for just a moment, with Katelyn Tuohy on the second floor of The Armory on Saturday. 

She found it kind of humorous. 

While the field's other professional athletes may have tried, at first, to brave the temperatures around New York City for a shake out run, Cain and Tuohy knew better. 

 "At first me and Katelyn were the only two runners in the field who didn't try to run outside," Cain said afterward. 

"And I was like, 'New Yorkkkkkk!'" 

A laugh likely ensued, the moment an otherwise calming note ahead of a pressure-filled race. 

But while it might have been a quick exchange -- and it was their third encounter over the last few years -- it also exuded the change in Cain in recent months. Ever since her powerful story of mental health struggle and anguish within the Nike Oregon Project published in the New York Times in November, the 23-year-old has become an advocate for better leaders in women's running at all levels.

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Maria Deaviz's Rise Is Far From Over

By Dan Beck

Maria Deaviz remembers fighting back tears in North Carolina last summer. College coaches were coming up to her and the junior thrower from Souderton Area did her best to keep a smile on her face.

The Championship section of the shot put had just wrapped up at New Balance Nationals Outdoor in mid-June of 2019, and Deaviz, who only had about a week of training under her belt after an injury stripped her of part of her outdoor season, wasn't happy with her performance.

After posting shot put performances consistently in the 43-44 foot range for much of the spring, Deaviz tossed 41 feet, 3.25 inches to finish 22nd in the country after coming in as the tenth seed.

"I choked," Deaviz recalls. "I remember going in the car and just crying."

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Amber Schulz Shares Her Running Journey With Thousands

By Adair Lyden

Timber creek junior Amber Schulz is no stranger to the spotlight. 

The sub 18-minute cross country state medalist can be found at any meet with several young runners asking to get photos with her and tell her how she's making an impact on their own running story. 

See, Schulz is pretty much an Instagram celebrity in the running community. 

The 16-year-old has an Instagram following of over 35 thousand runners around the world -- all eager to watch her journey from afar. From healthy recipes, gym workouts, mental health advocacy and running updates -- Schulz seems to share it all. 

The most vulnerable thing she's shared with her ever-growing audience thus far? Her journey fighting an eating disorder. 

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These California Twins Have Made Themselves An XC Video Game

By Jeffrey Parenti

Twins Garrett and Jacob Stanford are distance runners who competed at La Costa Canyon HS in San Diego County and are now at Brigham Young University.

Garrett won the San Diego Section 1600m title last spring with Jacob placing second. Jacob won the 2018 SDS Division 2 XC title with Garrett placing second. 

Throughout their prep running career at LCC, the twins were rarely more than a place apart. Over their last three years at the Carlsbad school, they placed no lower than fourth in the SDS Final in cross country and, in 2018, helped LCC to a San Diego Section Division 2 XC title, a runner-up finish at State and a berth in the 22-team field at NXN. 

The Stanford twins are accomplished runners, no doubt. They are also video game nerds. Not in the traditional sense as just players, but also as developers.

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Remembering Greg Hall, A Missouri Media Legend

By Cory Mull

There's a line from the late Greg Hall's long-ago blog that perfectly sums up the man most people knew around St. Louis, Missouri. 

Dad first, and everything second

This couldn't be more true about one of the more well known local sports personalities in the state of Missouri, who in recent years had gone all-in on his track and field fandom, to the delight of so many around the state.

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Annie Karshner Refining Throwing Game

By Mark Dwyer

Hit with the news of a canceled Ohio outdoor season and the accompanying harsh reality that it'll be several months before she finds herself facing live competition again, it would have been understandable if Annie Karshner decided to put the implements away for a while to focus on other endeavors.

That's far from the approach she's employed, however. 

Karshner, a Logan Elm rising junior and up-and-coming thrower, has taken the halted 2020 campaign in stride, but that's not to say there wasn't some disappointment that came along the way. 

"I'm a three-sport athlete, but track and field is my favorite and what I work on year-round, so not having a chance to compete was discouraging, but instead of dwelling on the negatives, I'm trying to use this as added motivation for next year," Karshner said.

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Cassidy Allen And The State Record Chase You Haven't Heard Of

By Kevin Czerwinski

Cassidy Allen (left) may not be the household name that some other prominent vaulters across New York State find themselves as, and you can blame the pandemic for that. Her school of Southwestern, a district with BEDS numbers hovering right around 300, doesn't field an Indoor Team. Allen was relegated to unattached competitions this past Winter, shortened even further by the cancellation of New Balance Indoor Nationals. That means she hasn't seen scholastic competition since June of 2019.

But the training hasn't stopped.

On February 9th of 2020, Allen would make one foray back into competition. She headed to Ohio to compete at the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase, clearing a personal best 10-6 to win the event. It had been her first time on the runway since Middletown eight months prior, where she cleared a then-PR of 10-0 at the Outdoor State Meet, a 6-inch improvement on her best of 9-6 set at the State Qualifier.

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This Runner's Faith Is Inspiring Others, Despite All Odds

By Cory Mull

Blaine Thomas, who turned 23 in June, has done all the right things all his life, and he has lived a life of service for nearly everyone. In pursuit of that dream, he has found something he was truly passionate about. 

But as in life and in competition, we all face challenges, and some endure more extreme hardships than others. And last Friday in Durham, North Carolina, Thomas faced the most difficult obstacle in his life when he was shot in a drive-by shooting while helping a neighbor with his car. 

The bullet hit Blaine's stomach and exited the body entirely, dealing him a major wound and blood loss that would prove to be life-threatening. Soon thereafter, he was rushed to the hospital by his roommate -- though perhaps in the only redeeming sign of this terrible moment -- it was just five blocks away.

Still, it was the start of the most difficult race of his life, the beginning of three surgeries that would see Blaine fight through the pain and come back on the other side. 

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Cole Sprout's Unofficial Record Breaking Track Season

A historic 11-day span saw the Valor Christian senior accomplish a record-brekaing feat in Colorado. Unofficially, of course

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By Bobby Reyes

If Sprout was a poker player, he'd be hard to read. But standing on the starting line with four laps ahead of him on this day in April, it was clear he had a royal flush in mind.

Anyone who had watched him race over the past four years knew this much: Every time he stepped on the track, he was in search of that mystical red line -- a feeling every athletes yearns and fears for simultaneously. But for the Valor Christian senior, he knew it better than most.

So there he stood, less than a month away from what was likely to be a virtual graduation before heading off to Stanford University in the fall, eyeing a record-breaking run -- one of many over a career-- that wouldn't count in CHSAA's record books.

COVID-19 certainly had changed a lot.

Back Home From Abroad, McKinley Fielding Faces A New USA

By Kevin Czerwinski

McKinley Fielding is viewed as an international woman of mystery by many in the Northeast and, to an extent, there is some truth to that notion. Fielding, after all, arrived in New York with no fanfare after dominating European Junior competition while living in Germany the past few years. And the United States she arrived back in, looks nothing like the one she had left back in grade school.

Throw in the fact that Carthage High, the school she currently attends, isn't running cross country this fall nor attending school in person and the picture of who Fielding is, both on and off the course, remains a bit blurry. So when she shows up at club races, the way she has this fall, and continues to come away with top-five finishes, people will naturally ask, "Who's that girl?"

Full Story

There's No Stopping Nathan Green

By Cory Mull

Nathan Green hasn't been thinking about his heart lately.

The heart murmur, at least the dangerous parts of that diagnosis, are being managed.

Sure, it's a part of what he's endured over the last year, though it's not something he's continually worried about.

He's looking ahead.

This indoor season could see Green get back to New Balance Nationals Indoor and go after a national title.

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    This Michigan Athlete Has Found Balance During Ramadan

    By Kyle Deeken

    It's 7:00 p.m. on a beautiful, late April evening and you're getting into the blocks for the first rep of your workout: Five times over the first five hurdles with five minutes of active rest.

    Kneeling over the rubber in lane 8, there's nobody else on the track except your father, who is your coach.

    After the 185 meter reps, the jog back to the line won't take too long, and dynamic drills will carry you to the beginning of the next one. 

    Not too bad, right? 

    But then, your stomach starts to rumble. 

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    More On The Alder's Success In Running, On And Off The Track

    By Denise Spann

    Growing up in a family with a distinguished sports background can come with pressures to succeed. 

    Add the outside expectations from having an Olympian and former Division I athletes as parents, and some young athletes would be afraid to follow in those shoes.

      But the Pinecrest (NC) High School sisterly duo of Carmen and Vanessa Alder haven't been intimidated by their parents' success, because they're confident in their individual talents and see their parents' history as a blueprint for their own careers.

      Cypress Spring's Coach's Pain Inspired Foundation

      By Olivia Ekpone

      For the last several years, Ruqayya Gibson has been pursuing an extremely important mission. 

      In 2019, when her 17-year-old son Damani died suddenly of cardiac arrest after a high school practice, she was left with a hundred questions and no answers.

      Why did it happen? 

      For several months afterward, Gibson said, she did not find her purpose of living. The pain of losing her son was hard to overcome.

      But soon enough, ideas began to emerge. The Former Houston Cypress Springs High School (TX) and current University of Houston volunteer track and field coach created the Damani Gibson Foundation to educate her community on what athletes, coaches and students should do if they are put in a life-or-death situation out on the practice field or at home. 

      Full Story


      Emma Coburn Smashes Colorado Soil Record At Team Boss Mile

      By Bobby Reyes

      Nothing was going to stop Emma Coburn

      Not the wind, which was picking up right at race time, not teammates Cory McGee, or former Colorado soil record holder Dani Jones.

      The stacked women's team for the Team Boss Colorado Mile made their intentions clear early, and it seemed almost inevitable that the Colorado soil record of 4:36 was going down. 


      Westlake's Paige Sommers Soars To 14-6 CA Pole Vault Record

      By Jeffrey Parenti

      THOUSAND OAKS -- Paige Sommers began an overcast 50-degree day not feeling her best. She ended up seemingly on top of the world. 

      Well, on top of the Golden State, at minimum. 

      Sommers, a junior at Westlake High School, broke the California state high school record in the pole vault when she cleared 14 feet, 6 inches on Saturday at the Thousand Oaks Lancer Invitational. It is the second-highest clearance by a high school girl in the pole vault in U.S. history.

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      Leo Daschbach Becomes 11th High Schooler To Break 4 In The Mile

      By Jeffrey Parenti

      EL DORADO HILLS, CALIFORNIA -- Leo Daschbach accomplished what he didn't even think was possible.

      Earlier this week, the Highland (AZ) High School senior and University of Washington recruit said during a pre-race interview of the Quarantine Clasico sub-4 mile attempt race that he didn't believe anyone in the eight-person field would break 4 minutes if they weren't on pace through three laps. 

      But then it happened. 

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      'We Were All Fired Up To Get This In'

      By Cory Mull

      CEDAR PARK, TEXAS -- On any other year, this weekend's invitational would have been a cake walk for Chance Edwards.

      Just last year, in his first year as head coach for Cedar Park High School after moving on from Montgomery -- where he was the UIL Class 6A Coach of the Year in 2018 -- he had helped usher in nearly 50 teams and a total of 2,500 athletes to the Cedar Park Cross Country Invitational.

      But on Saturday? 

      There were barely 400 athletes, spread across an early a.m. and late a.m. schedule, which Edwards knew was protocol after the University Interscholastic League had capped invitationals to just eight teams on a course at a time, with strict guideline of no more than 80 kids per race.

      Months of planning had prepared him for this rarified moment: Holding a meet through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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      Behind Jenna Hutchins' History-Making Run At RunningLane

      By Cory Mull

      Don't think this national record was an accident, a special circumstance or a magical race. 

      What Science Hill (TN) High School junior Jenna Hutchins accomplished on Saturday at the RunningLane XC National Championships, becoming the first prep girl to ever break 16 minutes for 5K in a cross country race, was the product of intense preparation and focus. 

      Well before Hutchins crossed the line in 15:58.42 -- her GPS watch tracking the distance at 3.13 miles -- ushering in one of the most breathtaking performances in modern girls cross country history, she curiously watched as the boys championship unfolded, with Parker Wolfe using a cleverly-timed last mile surge to take over and score a new meet record in 14:26.94.

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      'This Could Be The Last Race Of Your Season'

      By Cory Mull

      If this was the last race of Grant Wilcox's season, there was nothing he was leaving on the track. And, well, you could see it, the way his legs were wilting in the final meters on Saturday, the exact moment he collapsed in exhaustion.

      But if this was his last race, he also left satisfied. The Oklahoma State signee and Plano East High School senior crossed the finish line in 15:10, in his first -- and what could be his only -- outdoor 5K. 

      "I've been having a hard time coming back since last winter and trying to prove my worth and prove to people that I'm back and faster than ever," said Wilcox, who was 12th at the UIL Class 6A Cross Country Championships and opened his outdoor season with efforts of 4:29 and 9:29 for 1,600m and 3,200m, respectively. "It's kind of hard knowing that I may not have that chance. But again, I can still do what I love and train and run with some friends. That's what it's all about."

      Perhaps the uncertainty of the season was what willed most high school athletes to the 'Uncanceled Nomad Coronavirus 5K' on Saturday at Germany Park, even as federal health agencies and state officials pleaded for the public to respect social distancing policies as cases of COVID-19, now nearing 3,000 in the United States, continue to raise globally to over 140,000. It was about getting your paces in, when everything around you was shutting down.

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      Utah's Best Milers Came Up Big On A Grand Night

      By Logan Stanley

      EL DORADO HILLS, CALIFORNIA -- In a field of eight athletes competing under the lights on a calm Saturday evening at Oak Ridge High School, just east of Sacramento, a quartet of Utah runners attempted to make their mark on history in the Quarantine Clasico. 

      And up until the moment of the starting gun, nothing quite seemed out of reach.

      By race's end, Skyline's Thomas Boyden would shine bright and finish as the top athlete from Utah, scoring a personal record of 4:04.50 to place third. Corner Canyon's Easton Allred, hitting on all cylinders for his first true competitive mile since 2018, was fourth in a career best of 4:05.67.

      The Corner Canyon duo of Alex Harbertson (Sixth in 4:16.93) and Mark Boyle (Seventh in 4:16.98) secured their own successes, both running major PRs.

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      Explaining UNC's Massive Haul On A Broader Level

      By Garrett Zatlin

      The future is overwhelmingly bright for Coach Chris Miltenberg's program. The second-year UNC coach is proving that he is one of the best recruiters in the nation when it comes to distance runners and that the prestige of Stanford wasn't the only reason why high school athletes were committing to run for him.

      When Miltenberg shockingly took over this team in the summer of 2019, high expectations were placed upon his shoulders to transform the program into the same national powerhouse that Stanford was (at least on the distance side).

      It wasn't going to happen overnight and the development of these athletes will still be the hardest part of all. 

      Even so, the trend has only been positive for UNC's men's and women's teams and it looks like that will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future.

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      Riverside Runner Helping With Seneca Cleanup Effort

      By John Olson

      Mike McConnell has seen his share of rough paths.

      As a cross country and track runner, it's par for the course.

      The Riverside junior, though, just experienced the roughest paths he's ever seen. McConnell, along with a team of other volunteers, has spent time the past couple of weeks helping clean up efforts in Seneca following a devastating tornado that tore through the area late Easter night. The effort was put together by Samaritan's Purse, which helps in emergency relief situations.

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      Marcellus Moore Was Given The Worst Beat Imaginable

      By Cory Mull

      Think you got it tough? Talk to Marcellus Moore

      The Illinois native may have been given the worst beat in American track and field just a few weeks ago, losing not just one but two seasons in one fell swoop. 

      It's true. When the decision was handed down by the NCAA in March that it was not only cancelling the Indoor Track and Field Championships, but also eliminating the spring season, Moore was out of his freshman outdoor debut in college and his senior outdoor high school season.

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      Why NCAA Track And Field's Fate May Depend On Football's Future

      By Hunter Sharpless

      This is the vital question we need to ask ourselves: If the college football season is canceled, what happens to college athletics?

      Fans of wrestling, track, softball, or one of the "other" non-revenue sports may not think this matters much.

      But it does matter -- a lot.

      College athletics is changing dramatically because of the coronavirus pandemic. Schools across the United States and all divisions of the NCAA are facing huge financial losses and institutional challenges, and the fallout is just beginning.

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      Analyzing Nico Young's Career Best Performances

      By Garrett Zatlin

      It's not often that fans of high school track and field and cross country get to see a talent like Nico Young.

      The Newbury Park graduate, a legitimate superstar since the 2019 track and field season, has put together some legendary performances over the last year and a half, despite not having a senior outdoor track season.

      He has posted some of the fastest high school times and greatest performances in United States history.

      But with Young's high school career nearing the end and his historic 5,000 meter run now etched on the all-time list, we have opted to take a look back at his best races and analyze where they fit on the all-time pecking order. 

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      Sydney Holiday Is Taking A Unique Approach To Recruiting

      By Cory Mull

      Sydney Holiday had a plan, and then the plan unraveled in March. 

      Because of the 'rona

      And so the Colorado teen, a senior at Broomfield High School who was one of her state's best sprinters -- she had the potential to win the sprint double in 2020 before the season was canceled --  wasn't quite sure what her next move was until she spoke with her parents, Kent and Ginger, and her coach, FK Elite's Chuck Dugue.

      Interestingly enough, they suggested a sometimes-used method for young individuals seeking to explore the world before their next academic period. 

      A gap year. 

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      Delaware Non-Profit Trying To Go Big For Indoor Facility

      By Cory Mull

      Since 2013 -- when the University of Delaware converted its Field House from an indoor track facility to a practice venue for all sports -- high school athletes from inside the state have had no available venue to perform against their peers in state competition. 

      And ultimately, that's meant fewer opportunities overall. It's meant that programs from inside the state have had to travel as far as two to three hours just to find competition in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, among other states. And it's meant that the state's indoor state championship series has had to be held in Maryland, too. 

      The new facility, as ITD sees it, is a multi-million dollar 1,000-to-5,000-seat facility that can hold local, regional and state competition, maybe even national championships. 

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      Dear Running: 

      You've Taught Me To Dream

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      By Eleanor Wikstrom

      At age four, I learned about flight the same way that everyone else did: by falling. My father smiled warmly as he rubbed Neosporin onto my scratched and bleeding palms after my first attempt to launch from the play structure at our local park, explaining the limitations of human aerodynamics with the candid practicality of an engineer. Flight was not in our design; weightlessness was only temporary. That was fine with me. My domain was the ground: the courtyards where I played tag, the blacktops where I ran pacers, the trails where I jostled with dogs and walkers and bikers -- and eventually, the 400-meter-long rubber oval where I fell deeply and irrevocably in love with you.

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      Dear Running: 

      What Type Of Runner Gorl Are You?

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      By Fiona Max

      Rather than being the runner gorl, be the gorl who runs. That way you can also be the gorl who makes a mean enchilada, the gorl who loves chess, the gorl who sings jazz and not just the watered down version of yourself. 

      The best part? You teach the people who look up to you that being good at something does not mean being one dimensional. 

      Coming to terms with my own dimensions has brought richness to my running career-and my life. It's made it easier to forge friendships at the most stressful meets. Everyone forgets to floss. Everyone fears. Everyone is a shmo when they wake up in the morning. And there is some universality in that.

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      Dear Running: 

      Hope Will Always Prevail

      - - -

      By Solomon Strader

      Yet maybe this is what we need; maybe our season being taken away will teach us an important lesson. We are more than athletes. While running fits into our our lives right now, and some are doing everything in their power to continue it, running is not all we have. If you take track and field from me, I am still Solomon Strader. Perhaps that is the question we should be asking ourselves right now: Are we still the same person without sports in our lives? Maybe this is all a lesson someone is trying to teach us; maybe this time off is something we all need, to come back better and stronger not just as athletes but as leaders in our community.

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      On The Cutting Of Men's Track At Minnesota

      By Dawson LaRance

      My time at Minnesota has brought me countless blessings: I have received a great education; medaled at the Big Ten Track and Field Championships; I am an NCAA national qualifier' I am in the UMN track and field record books; I started an LGBTQAI+ advocacy and support group within our athletic department; and, above all, I have made some amazing friendships that will last me forever.

      These experiences were only possible because I was a part of this incredible program.

      My teammates and I have given a great deal to the University of Minnesota athletic department. Gopher men's track and field has countless athletic and academic achievements. Also, of great importance, the Gopher track and field program is a leader for diversity and inclusion at the University of Minnesota. I do not think the full community impact was considered prior to the recommendation to cut the men's track and field program. Track and field prides itself on bringing diverse communities together. Track and field, unlike many other sports, offers every person of any background wishing to compete in a sport the opportunity to do so. There is not a sport more diverse in terms of race, gender, socio-economic status, etc. Cutting men's track and field would be a huge loss for the athletic department and the entire University of Minnesota.

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      Dear Running: 

      This Sport Is My Home

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      By Sully Shelton

      So the question I ask myself every day is, 'Why did these signals tell me to run?' I still don't have an answer to this ever-evolving question; however, I believe that running encompasses the true meaning of the human body and everything that comes with it. And regardless of the impending pain, this sport brings me joy like no other. Running is something that I have thrown my entire heart and mind into and it is something I will not give up, no matter the cost. This sport is my home, and for that reason, I run.

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      Female In Focus

      Learning How To Overcome The Fight Of My Life

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      By Emma Rogers

      So, how does one conquer an eating disorder? Recovery and growth. It's not easy. Anything worth having doesn't come easy. It's an ongoing process. There may never be a definite end. Those demons could be with me forever and I have accepted that. However, I have the choice each day to get up and fight them and win. For too long, living has taken a backseat. I've been surviving, not thriving. Every waking hour, my head has been consumed with numbers and nagging thoughts of not being enough, not deserving of love and care. Living with an eating disorder isn't really living, it's clinging on for dear life. Anyone can, and should, know a world, a life, that isn't dictated by food and trying to control everything.

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      Dear Younger Me:

      By Gabby Thomas

      But when you get to track meets, don't worry about the other girls' uniforms or who they run for. It doesn't matter where they go or what they've done, because you can compete against anyone. You're built to do everything you want to do. You can win any race. You can win a championship. You got this. 

      Just because it hasn't been done before, doesn't mean you can't do it.

      You'll fall in love with the process and strive to get better every day. You'll work together with Coach Tolbert and become one of the best athletes in collegiate history. You've always been a hard worker, so that won't come as a surprise to you.

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      The Race Isn't Over 

      By Ashlyn Liddle

      Perhaps instead of focusing on the negatives and difficulties of the current situation, lift your head up and take a look at the blessings that still surround. Even though our performances are on hold, what a blessing that I still have legs and strength to run! What a blessing that the consequences of this pandemic are that I get to stay within the comfort of my home and with my family!  What a blessing that I am able to do things that I simply didn't have time for before! Even though the circumstances are not ideal, there are always blessings in the pain. Envision this temporary trial as a race itself! The pain and discomfort are more than real, and it seems as though the end will never come. As we stand upon the same turf, we struggle and strive together. It takes each one of us individually to complete the race, and we must never give up.

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      Reflecting On Running And Race After Tragedy

      Myles Collins 


      The sound of the gun goes off, but this time it's not a race gun. For many years, the sound of the starting gun has brought much joy and excitement, and a feeling that I can race against my competitors in a safe environment.

      But for many other African Americans, the sound of a gun doesn't do the same. They don't have the same rush of excitement in their body, but rather a wave of paralyzing fear. Incidents like the one with Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed tragically in February while on a routine run on a rural road in Georgia, have a way of bringing citizens like myself back to reality.

      Ahmaud was a young African-American male from Georgia with a future. 

      I also live in Georgia, and I am a young African-American runner with a future.

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      What Losing The Track And Field Season Would Mean To Athletes

      Ask your parents, or your coaches. Talk to your teachers. There are moments you can't get back. 

      You only have them when you do. And years from now, decades even, when you start to examine the role high school sports played in your life -- whether you went on to continue your career in college or not -- chances are those memories will remain vivid in your mind. Your parents, your coaches, your teachers, they all know this. 

      So what do we stand to miss if we lose our seasons? 

      We lose the moments we weren't fortunate enough to experience. And that will be the real tragedy of what student-athletes are facing today, with a public health crisis continuing across the country. There are currently over 125,000 cases of COVID-19 globally, including 1,629 and 41 deaths in the US, though that number is rising rapidly by the day. 

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      Dear Younger Me

      By Kendall Ellis

      At some point, you're going to feel like this isn't for you. You're going to feel like maybe it's a mistake and something you no longer want to do. You sometimes won't get the credit that you deserve. And you won't get into every meet.

      When you think you've made it, you'll have to wait months before you sign a professional contract. Things will seem unfair and you'll be upset.

      But that's okay, too.

      Because you will still achieve those things that deep down you know are possible and you really secretly want but are too scared to admit -- you don't even dare say them out loud.

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      You Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone

      By Presley Miles

      Every one of you has gained something from a coach. We've had coaches who have taught you that you can improve more than you thought, inspiring you with confidence, pushing you when you wanted to quit, and building you up mentally. They've kept you humble, they've been there to listen and they've helped you understand your WHY, furthering you passion for the sport and leading by example. 

      They've taught you how to work within a team, they've made you feel a valued and loved part of that team, and they've held you accountable -- and taught you to hold others accountable -- proving you were special when you thought you were average. 

      They've demanded that you respect and honor yourself, your parents, your teammates, your school and your God.  

      My specific ask is that TODAY, you reach out to a coach, past and/or present, and tell them thank you.

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      Q&As [6]

      Garrett Heath Looks Back Fondly At His High School Career

      By Ryan Kotajarvi

      It was my junior year XC season and potentially the most fit I ever was in high school entirely. I had been beaten countless times the previous year in the home stretch of XC races by Tom Schmidt -- the XC and 800m champ in Minnesota my sophomore year -- and was frustrated that I could seemingly do nothing about it; the sectional race even came to us walking side-by-side because I was sick of leading him out and being out kicked, but he knew there was no reason for him to lead -- spoiler: I lost that one too. I spent a lot of that summer and fall of my junior season working hard on my kick.

      Every workout I ran that year, I can specifically remember making sure the last interval was the fastest one. My endurance improved a lot that year too, and I remember feeling like a different person that fall than I did in 10th grade. Amazing how much one year can make at that age! 

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