RunningLane Boys Preview: Elites Set To Chase For History

* Rocky Hansen (left), Devan Kipyego (center) and Rhen Langley enter the championship events at the RunningLane Track Championships as top athletes to watch.

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- We're just a day away from the third installment of the RunningLane Track Championships.

And this year's competition may be the most star-studded one yet. 

Could we see a sub-4-minute mile? New US No. 1 marks? 

All of that and more could be on the table under the lights in Huntsville this weekend.

Continue below for a preview of the boys events at the 2023 RunningLane Track Championships set for Friday and Saturday in Huntsville.

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Top Boys Athletes To Watch: 

The Championship Contenders:

800m: Rocky Hansen, Christ School (NC); Marcus Gaitan, Houston Lutheran Southern (TX); Max Armstrong, Vestavia Hills (AL); Justin Gottlieb, Jefferson (WV). Mile: Devan Kipyego, St. Raphael Academy (RI); Alex Leath, Vestavia Hills (AL) Noah Jenkins, Herriman (UT); Maxwell Hardin, Auburn (AL); Jacob Laney, Porter Ridge (NC). 3,200m: Noah Jenkins, Herriman (UT); Dane Eike (CO); Jacob Laney, Porter Ridge (NC); Brayden Marshall, Winfield (WV); Brayden Seymour, Newbury Park (CA). 

The Darkhorse Candidates:

800m: Rhen Langley, Zachary (LA); Julian Carter II, Marion (AR); Michael Woolery, Episcopal Academy (PA); Keyshawn Garcia, Edinburg North (TX); River Hardman, Russellville (AR). Mile: Adam Burlison, Grapevine (TX); Alex Pena, Sunlake (FL); Knox Young, Greenville (SC); Rhen Langley, Zachary (LA); Steven West, Sandia (NM). 3,200m: Porter Middaugh, Battle Mountain (CO); Brian Gamble (MA); Marcelo Parra, TMI Episcopal (TX); Franco Parra, TMI Episcopal (TX); Keegan Thomas, Stillwater (OK).  

Why You Need To Pay Attention To These Boys:

Devan Kipyego, St. Raphael Academy (RI): Could the 4:00 miler break the elusive time barrier? We certainly could see that on Saturday evening as Kipyego enters as the top seed in the championship event. He's done it all so far this season in Rhode Island, winning Class C Championships in the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m and even clocking a sub-9 3,200m performance at the loaded Arcadia Invitational back in April. The New Balance Nationals Indoor runner-up in the mile will look to claim a national title in Huntsville, and his elite-level speed could carry him to not only that, but potentially more historic marks.

Rocky Hansen, Christ School (NC): The newest member of the sub-4-minute mile club hasn't contested the 800m much at full strength, but he'll be putting that foot speed to the test on Saturday as he chases for a win. Hansen won the mile last year in near barrier-breaking effort of 4:00.76, but will drop down to the 800m where he holds a career best of 1:51.73 set just a week ago at the NCISAA Division 1 State Championships. He'll enter as the top seed in the championship field and don't be surprised to see him potentially surge through the national rankings behind what could be an elite effort this weekend.

Rhen Langley, Zachary (AL): Langley could be one of the most underrated guys in the field, but he is a top-tier talent out of Louisiana looking to challenge for titles in the mile and 800m on Saturday. The LSU signee made a name for himself back in the indoor season when he set numerous state all-time records including 4:13.91 for the 1,600m and 9:16.10 in the 3,200m. But Langley has continued that momentum from the winter into outdoor and recently won a 5A state championship in the 800m in 1:51.55. Langley could be someone that puts pressure on the front pack in both the mile and 800m, and don't be surprised to see him challenge for the win in the closing meters.

Noah Jenkins, Herriman (UT): The star senior out of Herriman will push the pace in the 3,200m and mile this weekend. And the longer the distance, the better Jenkins gets as he holds a best of 8:43.19 from the Arcadia Invitational, which ranks at US No. 6. 

Adam Burlison, Grapevine (TX): The freshman enters RunningLane coming off of his best performance to date at the UIL Texas Class 5A State Championships where he swept the 1,600m and 3,200m in 4:08.64 and 8:54.47. Each of those performances came in smart, commanding fashion, too, as he ran from the front and found another gear in each race to secure the wins at the finish. The momentum could carry over into RunningLane as Burlison will hope to chase after new PRs in the mile.

Where The Mile Will Be Won: 

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Final 200m

With sub-4 and low-4-minute miles on the mind, it's likely going to come down to a final kick going into the last turn to determine a winner on Saturday night in the championship section.

The field will be chasing those pacing lights on the track in Huntsville, and with an uber competitive start list, that could breed a sprint to the finish.

Expect Devan Kipyego to go out aggressively with 60-second or faster laps, as the 4:00 miler will certainly have sub-4 on the mind. But don't be surprised to see other frontrunners like North Carolina 4A state champion Jacob Laney and  

But the key factor in what could turn the final lap into a barnburner is the amount of mid-distance speed in this field. Indoor 800m all-timer Alex Leath and other athletes with strong kicks like 5A 1,600m and 3,200m champion Adam Burlison and Maxwell Hardin could change the trajectory of the race over the closing meters.

Nonetheless, an electric atmosphere in ideal night-time conditions could prove essential in producing an out-of-this-world effort in the mile on Saturday.

On The Line Analysis: