A High-Performance Distance Meet In Arizona To Watch


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When Sean Brosnan took the time to look back on 2020, there were some truly monumental moments for his athletes at Newbury Park High School. 

From Nico Young's national high school 3,000 meter record at the Millrose Games in February, to his No. 4 high school 5K performance in June, to the Panthers' incredible performances in November and December in cross country meets in Arizona and Indiana, Brosnan's team certainly made the most of a limited year. 

But in essence, there was everything before COVID-19, and then everything after. And the Panthers, like all programs across the United States, had to deal with the effects of a pandemic on high school competition. 

Those team-centric competitions in November and December seemed especially memorable. 

"When the guys did that 5K in Arizona, it struck a chord with me," he said. "I didn't know what would happen next. Cross country got canceled and postponed. So I said, let's get a hold of some people and put on a meet that's open." 

Ultimately, that's what Brosnan did, working the phones to set up three Sundown Track Series meets held at Queen Creek High School in Arizona over the next two months -- the second and third installments will be on Feb. 27 and March 27. MileSplit will stream the first iteration on Saturday at 6 p.m. PST. 

The vision, Brosnan said, was to put on a high-performance meet featuring just a few races, mostly of high schoolers. And in this instance, that's what will take place, with only two events: The mile and the 3,200m. A few athletes who are post-high school and post-collegiate will also likely compete in entry fields. 

Brosnan didn't want to limit the event to just a certain demographic. 

"The idea was not to go over three heats in anything," Brosnan said. "We didn't want to put it out there too much. We wanted to have the quality." 

"I always envisioned doing a high performance high school meet," he added. "I wanted a few heats, a few events and I wanted to put a rabbit in it. If you're running unattached, you can put a rabbit. It's all independent." 

In the boys mile on Friday, Melissa (TX) High School senior Judson Greer, a University of North Carolina signee and a three-time Texas cross country champion, will be in the field. 

So too will be promising Newbury Park athletes Colin Sahlman and Christian Simone and Nicholas Goldstein, Casteel's (AZ) Dayton Carlson and Pasadena's (CA) Isaiah Givens, among others. 

Brosnan thinks the field should have the potential to go sub-4:10.

For Greer, it will mark his first race at 1,600m or the mile since May of 2019, when he won the UIL Class 4A championship as a sophomore in 4:14.56.

Friday's race will mark a big step for Sahlman and Simone, too. Both have been training religiously, and both have a chance to down their official 1,600m PRs of 4:19.32 and 4:27.63, respectively -- the races will have 1,600m split times en route to the mile.

And of course, Brosnan knows the important question will be safety, too. At the very least, his Newbury Park athletes are paying for independent COVID-19 tests in order to travel. The meet, however, will also be closely monitoring mask wearing and social distancing. 

"We're doing everything that's required," Brosnan said. 

From there, racing opportunities will present themselves. 

"It's still early for a mile, but if I had to guess I would say these guys have a chance to go 4:05," he said. "I think the kids are capable of it."

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