Keegan Smith Shocked Himself With Freshman Class Mile Record

* Keegan Smith set a new freshman class national record on Friday in the freshman mile at New Balance Nationals Indoor

Photo Credit: Steven Pisano/MileSplit

"They say you're only a freshman once, so I really wanted to take advantage of it." -- Keegan Smith

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By Cory Mull - MileSplit

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK -- Keegan Smith didn't enter Friday's race thinking about who he was facing, or whether it was part of the championship section at New Balance Nationals Indoor. 

Instead, he focused on the moment in front of him. On a race that was his. 

"They say you're only a freshman once, so I really wanted to take advantage of it," Smith said on Friday inside the Armory.

"I've been running up a lot this season, running with some really good upperclassmen. And I just wanted one race to myself, one that I go into mentally and say, 'This is your race. Go get it done.'" 

And so that's exactly what the Knoxville Catholic (TN) freshman did, setting a new national class record in the mile with a time of 4:14.63.

It was the eighth-best time in Tennessee indoor history. It was a full six seconds faster than his previous best. 

"I'm really grateful," Smith said. "All the glory to God. That was a very good race for myself. I shocked myself. I think I shocked a lot of people." 

The result came just over a month since the Tennessee State Indoor Championships, when Smith lost a shoe midway through the race and had to finish it without his spikes. He finished second. 

"It was (a season) full of ups and downs," Smith said. " finally have one where it was like, 'I'm good,' it was amazing." 

But it also was no fluke, either. Smith owned the nation's top freshman mile and 3,200m prior to the weekend. He had run 4:04.88 for 1,500m. 

He won a Tennessee state cross country title in November, qualified for the Eastbay Cross Country Championships and ran the nation's fastest 5K on grass over the season, all-time. 

The mile was just his next mission. Smith knew it wouldn't be easy.  

"My PR was 4:20, so it was definitely, I knew I could get the record. (But) was I really going to drop five to six seconds off my PR? That's really hard to do in the mile." 

Smith was clear and away the best freshman in the race. He fended off second-place Landon Pretre by six seconds and was over 11 seconds better than third-place Jack Graffeo. 

That was also by design. 

Photo Credit: Steven Pisano/MileSplit

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Smith threw down the hammer in the first first lap, posting a 30 before heading through the 400m mark in 1:00.69. He held on from there, hitting the 809m mark in 2:05.68. Smith kept turning over. 

The win was the first of two races this weekend. He will follow up with an effort in the 800m on Sunday. 

From there, Smith hopes to go after some fast performances outdoors. 

"Definitely want to run some fast times, maybe attack some records," Smith said. "Two miles. 3,200ms. Anything. It's whatever comes my way outside of here." 

In the meantime, he says, he's grateful for Friday's race, for the people who put him in a position to succeed. To the Man above.

Smith's focus remains as clear as ever. Onward. 

Related Links: 

New Balance Nationals Indoor: Day 1's Running Recap

Post-race interviews

NBNI photos