Behind #Beastmode Anchor, Ridgefield Makes Statement At NBNO

* Ridgefield's Steven Hergenrother finishes the DMR at New Balance Nationals Outdoor on Sunday in first place

Photo Credit: Nate Kuntz/MileSplit 

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Among the many momentous efforts across four days at New Balance Nationals Outdoor in Philadelphia this past weekend, one underrated action largely went ignored. 

Down six seconds over the final 1,600 meters of the championship boys distance medley relay on Sunday at Franklin Field, it looked as if Ridgefield (CT) High School was out of the picture. 

But then, with 400 meters left, they were back in it, and there was Steven Hergenrother, a CIAC State Open champion at 1,600m, hawking down his competition.  

The high school junior, who came up one place shy of qualifying for Champs Sports Nationals this past cross country season, pursued Monroe-Woodbury's Collin Gilstrap endlessly over the final leg and with just 150 meters left took the lead to give Ridgefield the win in a new U.S. No. 1 time of 9:58.08.

Nearly inconceivable, though, was his split: 4:01.80. 

Hergenrother's personal record at the distance outdoors was 4:12.55 -- though he had also run 4:08.05 indoors in February.  

No athlete in Connecticut history has even run the open 1,600m that fast. The closest, Gavin Sherry, clocked a 4:01.88 in 2021. 

Just where did it come from? 

Few high school athletes in history have split final anchor legs that fast, either.

Famously, Loudoun Valley's Drew Hunter made seven seconds up in the final 1,600m leg of the DMR at the Penn Relays in 2016 to win, splitting a 4:00.73. We're sure you can drum up some terrific anchor legs from former greats like Alan Webb ('01), Edward Cheserek ('11), Colin Sahlman ('22) and Reed Brown ('17). 

But the point is, they just don't happen that often. 

Hergenrother entered the cathedral of #beastmode on Sunday. 

The downside? DMR anchor splits don't go on the books -- and they're not meticulously catalogued like most other races, either. It almost went unnoticed just how commanding that final meters were for the Connecticut ace. 

Interestingly enough, though, it wasn't Hergenrother's only heroic effort. 

Two days earlier, in the championship 4x800 on Friday, he ran 1:50.30 to take Ridgefield from third to second in the championship race.

His previous best in the 800m was 1:52.24. 

Perhaps it's the first indication what to expect in 2023-2024 from the rising senior from Connecticut. 

All signs point forward. 

* Ridgefield's winning DMR team: Ethan Walls, Hergenrother, Magnus Manley and Isaac Graber