The Jim Ryun Dream Mile in New York, NY this Saturday has all the makings of a special race for both the girls and the boys. Both fields are loaded with top talent from around the country, all itching for the chance to win this very special event and perhaps run a very special time in the process.
Assuming the races don't turn tactical, and that the weather cooperates, both of these Miles could go very fast.
(Photos by Geoff Decker)
With the exception of US #1 Emily Lipari, the Jim Ryun Dream Mile field of girls looks like a who’s who of the country’s top high school 1600m runners. The top eight runners all own PRs that fall within two seconds of one another, promising for a very close race that’s likely to come down to the last 100 meters.
On paper, Ajee Wilson(Neptune, NJ) is the one to beat. She’s enters the race with both the top 800m (2:04.98) and 1600m times (4:43.92) and last week’s 800m performance at last week’s New Jersey Meet of Champs was the fastest in the country this year. Looks like she’s peaking just in time for this race
Emily Sisson(St. Louis, MO) hasn’t raced scholastically all outdoor season because she represented the USA in World Junior XC Championships and Missouri athletic rules prevent high school athletes from doing both. Despite this, she’s had a historically great prep school season, clocking a 16:20.445000m, good for #7 all time and 9:51 in 3200m in a time triallast weekend, which would be #2 time ever. One question mark: Will the lack of racing, particularly at shorter distances leave her short when the leaders kick?
When people see Marielle Hall(Haddonfield, N.J.), they see a middle distance runner and for good reason. She clocked a 2:07.33 in the 800m and 58 second 400m relay split. The speed is there, but as Jason Russo, her coach at Haddonfield Mem says, “She really had ridiculous range.” How ridiculous? She ran 16:55.69 for 5000m, the third fastest time this year. Her 1600m time is second in the country only to Wilson.
Cory McGee’s outdoor times don’t have the kind of luster of her rivals, but she also hasn’t faced as fast of competition. When she does, however, she shows up in a big way. She won the 2010 Millrose Mile, placed 2ndat Nike Indoor Nationals Mile (4:46.63) and was 3rd at Reebok Boston Indoor Games Mile. Her fastest 1600m in outdoor 4:50, which she ran last month at the Mississippi state meet but expect a big performance from her tomorrow.
[**Upset Special**]Kelsey Margeyis a wild card, dark horse candidate if there ever was one. Margey is a national-caliber soccer and lacrosse player who ran indoor track for the first time this season and won the 1000m State Title. She also split a 56.9 in a 4x400 meter relay. Despite playing lacrosse scholastically this spring, she is training under Paul Limmer, who says she’s been training as a distance runner only since April 1. He hasn’t had her do more than 40 minutes of consecutive running but says “she’s a unique talent.” Despite her low intensity training, she has still produced some solid times - last weekend she broke Danielle Tauro’s 1500m record (4:35.87) at the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational. “It would take someone running in the low-4:40s to beat her,” Limmer said. If she has anything left in her tank with 200 meters to go, it will be interesting to see what that 400 meter speed can do.
Maddie Meyers(Seattle, WA) is probably the fastest miler coming over from the West Coast. She won the prestigious Arcadia Mile over Alli Billmeyer, who has run one of the fastest 1600m times in the country. If she’s able to shake the jet lag factor, Meyers should be in the mix.
Having raced behind Wilson and Hall all season New Jersey, it’s easy to overlook Claudia DiSomma(Sparta, NJ) as a contender in this race. But she’s the fifth fastest girl in the 1600m this year, running a 4:45.37. Her relative inexperience – she’s only a freshman – may prevent her from contending to win, but she will be in the mix.
Alli Billmeyer(San Diego, CA) – is one of the top milers from the left coast and will look to represent it well. She’s run 4:45.06, the 3rdfastest time in the field. She’s also run a decent 800m, in 2:09.94.
Joanna Stevens(Blacksburg, Va) &
Kathleen Stevens(Blacksburg, Va.) – Despite their likeness as identical twins, Joanna and Kathleen have different strengths as runners. “Joanna can’t accelerate but can hold onto difficult paces for longer very well,” says their coach James DeMarco. “Whereas Kathleen is a better closer.” Joanna owns the faster PR of the two, a 4:48 for full mile and beat McGee earlier this year at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games Mile to finish second.
Shelby Hayes(Winter Park, FL) –The state of Florida’s fastest will be represented here. She’s the State Champion in both the 1600m and 3200m; she was injured earlier in the year with an IT band issue, so has been late getting back, but she’s healthy now and could be running on fresh legs having avoided the early-season pounding.
Eleanor Fulton(Highlands Ranch, CO) – Fulton hasn’t run many big races against big-time national competition. As such, many or her season’s fastest times are slower than the rest of the field. She has clocked a 4:48 mile, however, so she has as much of a chance as any to be there. But will the lack of competition in racing the last few months leave her legs less not as sharp?
Katie Flood(Des Moines, IA) – Having never run either a 1600m or full mile (Iowa races the 1500m), Flood will be racing her inaugural mile here at Icahn Stadium. Her 1500m PR (4:28.3) suggests she’ll at least be in the mix tomorrow but her relative inexperience with running the extra 100 meter could be a disadvantage.
There are several of the country’ top milers missing from the event, including US #1 Alex Hatz and #3 Ben Johnston. Moreover, the field’s collective PRs in the 1600m/mile is slower than in previous years (the fastest mile conversion is 4:07.28), where most times were closer to 4-flat. At Friday’s press conference, however, there was a buzz about 4-flat nonetheless. The presence of Jim Ryun in the room was enough and most of the boys acknowledged that the milestone was in the back of their minds. There will reportedly be a pacer in the race instructed to run 2:00 through 800 meters to set up any ambitious leaders. A very fast early pace can be expected.
Lukas Verzbicas (Orland Park, IL) is a wild card, having not raced scholastically since the winter. His immense talent and abilities, evidenced by his dominating win at Foot Locker national championships, always makes him a favorite for any race. The Dream Mile is no different. He admits his strength is not his speed, but it’s hard to ignore the 3:56.88 road mile he ran a couple weeks ago. He also said he was running 200m repeats in 26 seconds two days ago to tune up for Saturday. At Friday’s press conference he was coughing and sniffling but said it was more seasonal allergies than a head cold. “I’m fine,” he said. “I’ll be fine.”
Jake Hurysz(Mebane, N.C.) has the third fastest 3200m time in the country, an 8:49.86. In that race, the Arcadia Invitational, which he won, Huryz split a 4:18 second mile and closed in 1:30 for the last 600m. He’s also run a 1:52.6, but his coach thinks he can run close to 1:50. “He didn’t realize his potential” until this year, says his coach, Chris Catton. He was running 25 miles per week last year and even this year he’s been on a low-intensity program. He’s an upset special.
Jim Rosa’s 4:07.89 win at Meet of Champs last weekend moved him all the way up to US #3 for 1600m, making him one of the pre-race favorites. He’s also the 2-mile national champion at Nike Indoor Nationals. He doesn’t have raw closing speed that others in the race do – his fastest 800m is 1:53.65 – so he will try and gap some of the faster guys with a fast pace early.
Cole Watson(Rogue River, Ore) is one of the fastest West Coast runners in the race. He was 3rdin the 800m at Arcadia Invy (1:52.71) and has split a 49-point in a 400m relay. He says that he doesn’t like to lead until the final stretches of a mile race so if he’s in the right position he could surprise.
Watson’s roommate next year at the University of Oregon, Colby Alexander, has similar race speed attributes. He’s got sub-50 400m speed but says that he likes to take out the race aggressively and anticipates being at the front of the mile pack from the start.
Kenny Krotzer(Auburn, Wa.) comes as the fastest miler from the West Coast and the US #2 1600m time, with a 4:07.24. He did not run well in his biggest race, the Arcadia Invitational, where he finished fifth, running 4:14.
Isaac Presson(Asheville, NC) finished second to Schellberg in the Penn Relay mile, with a time of 4:09.16, but has raced a lot of doubles and triples since then and not been challenged that much. He’s a bit of a wild card.
Kirubel Erassa(Loganville, Ga.) has the fastest mile of the boys field, a 4:07.28, but his strength as a runner is, well, strength, having also clocked a US #1 14:19 in the 5K. He doesn’t have much speed, however, and in a race that will be paced at a very fast pace early on, he might struggle to close.
Pat Schellberg(Morristown, N.J.) had strep throat during state group meets and the Meet of Champions, which can explain his sub-par performances at those races. Although his coach, Brian Theroux, doesn’t describe him as a natural mile –“He lacks the raw turnover speed” – Schellberg has made a name for himself in big mile races. He’s won at both Penn Relays and the Millrose Games. Theroux says he's recovered from strep, but the weeks off may have affected his sharpness too much.
Joe Rosa’s specialty is longer distances, as he proved with a US #2 for 3200m (8:48.55) but he has one of the slower mile PRs in the field. Look for him to be out in front pushing the pace early with his brother to throw off the kickers pace.
Francis Hernandezis more of an endurance strength runner who is coming down from the 3200m, but he still has the third fastest full mile time in the country at 4:09.21. Much of his improvement has come since indoors so he will be looking to build on his recent success with another big PR.
Because of the grind of late season racing involved in the California championship season, Ammar Moussa(Arcadia, Ca) has focused his training primarily on peaking for last weekend’s state championships, where he placed 3rdin a time of personal best 8:57.82. “Ammar is taking [the Dream Mile] seriously, but the focus was obviously the California State meet,” says his coach Chris Schultz. Moussa isn’t a traditional miler and could struggle to stay with a front pack that goes out in sub-60. “I don’t know that he has the ability to go down near 4:05 or 4:06,” Schultz said. “But he can hang in there.”
On the boys side, while there won't be a sub-4 clocking, we could see a 4:03-4:05 on the top-end of this field. Kenny Krotzer, WA (4:07.24), Kirubel Erassa, GA (4:07.28), and Jim Rosa, NJ (4:07.89), have all gone under 4:08 this year for 1600 meters, but haven't been in a race with this many people to push them to better times. Pat Schellberg, NJ, has proven he can figure out a way to win with Millrose and Penn Relays wins, and boasts a PR of 4:08.07.
Cole Watson, OR, jumped in with the college men to run 1500 meters at the Oregon Relays and wound up with a PR of 3:50.84, and stands a good chance of going sub-4:05 for the full Mile. The X-factor of the elite field is Lukas Verzbicas, IL, who has been relatively low-key this season, but trotted out for a 3:56.88 down hill road mile, sparking many to speculate just how fast he is capable of going for a Mile on the track.
Isaac Presson, NC, clocked a 4:09.16 at the Penn Relays, setting him up to use this race for a chance to set a big PR. Colby Alexander, OH, 4:09.44 for 1600, is coming on strong at the end of the year and looks ready to pop a big race here. Ammar Moussa, CA, rounds out the true milers with his 4:10.40 clocking this spring for 1600 meters.
Joe Rosa, NJ, ran 8:48.55 for 3200 and 4:11.16 for 1600 this spring, proving that he has the strength to stay in this race until the finishing kick. Jake Hurysz, NC, has a 8:49.76 3200 PR, and also will be staying in this race with strength. Francis Hernandez, NH, has a 4:14.98 Mile to his credit, but will be relying on his 2:30.60 1000 speed to improve his Mile PR.
On the girls side, it is likely that we will see a sub-4:40 Mile. Of course, the favorite here would be Ajee Wilson, NJ, who has demonstrated the ability to run a fast 1600 (4:43.92) as well as some serious 800 speed (2:04.94). In the last lap of her winning 800 race Wilson looked smooth as butter in her acceleration. New Jersey is scary good in the 1600 this year as Claudia DiSomma has gone 4:45.57 for 1600 and Marielle Hall has run a 4:48.73.
Others that could taste the sub-4:45 club are Alli Billmeyer, CA, and Cory McGee, MS, who have respective PR's of 4:45.06 (1600) and 4:46.63 (Mile). Alli ran that time while winning her CA sectional meet. Cory ran hers indoors at NIN, but has the ability to race very well when it counts.
On the cusp of joining these girls are a pair of VA twins and some Midwesterners. Eleanor Fulton, CO, ran 4:48.10 indoors and looks poised to do it again. Emily Sisson, MO, is more of an unknown with a 4:49.18 PR from last spring, but has the X-factor of a 9:51 3200 time trial last week. Joanna and Kathleen Stevens, VA, have respective PR's of 4:48.12 and 4:48.45 from the Southern Track Classic. They race well and will be in the mix for most of the race.
Shelby Hayes, FL, has gone 4:50.54 for 1600 this spring and will be looking to drop some time in this race. Katie Flood, IA, had an amazing state meet and will be up for the challenge of a tough mile with her 4:31.33 1500 PR. Kelsey Margey, FL, has a 2:10.07 PR for 800 and can use that speed to garner a big Mile PR.
The Boys Milers
Jake Hurysz, NC, won the stacked Arcadia 3200 with a time of 8:49.76. He was also third in the Penn Relays 3000 in 8:21.74.
Kirubel Erassa, GA, has been rocking since indoor. He won the 5000 there (14:19.82) and was 2nd in the Mile (4:07.28). Outdoors he won the 1600 state champs in 4:08.24 and was 2nd in the 3200 with a 8:56.46.
Lukas Verzbicas, IL, owns a PR in the Two mile run of 8:53.98 and he won the Foot Locker XC champs last year in 15:07.80. Lukas more recently ran a 3:56.88 down hill mile for 2nd at the Foot Mechanics Mile in St. Charles, IL. He'll be ready to race.
Pat Schellberg, NJ, knows how to show up big when the pressure is on. He won the Millrose Mile in 4:14.84 after jumping out to a big lead early. He did the same thing at the Penn Relays, winning the Mile there in 4:08.07.
Isaac Presson, NC, a future teammate of Pat's, was 2nd behind him in the Penn Relays mile with a time of 4:09.16. He has also gone 9:00.87 for 3200 meters.
Cole Watson, OR, has a 1500 PR of 3:50.84 from the Oregon Relays, showing he has the speed to contest for the win in the Mile race.
Colby Alexander, OH, won his state meet with a 1600 time of 4:09.44. He has also gone 4:11.46 for the full Mile.
Francis Hernandez, NH, has gone 4:14.98 for the full Mile but has the speed of a 2:30.60 for 1000 meters.
Ammar Moussa, CA, won the Pacific League Champs with a PR of 4:10.40 for 1600 meters. He also has an 8:57.82 3200 to his credit from a 3rd place finish at the CA state meet.
Kenny Krotzer, WA, is US#2 in the 1600 with a PR of 4:07.24 behind Ben Johnston's US#1 4:06.54 at the Shoreline Invite.
Joe Rosa, NJ, has a 1600 PR of 4:11.16 set with his win at the state group meet. Joe was also runner-up at the NJ MOC with a 3200 time of 8:48.55.
Jim Rosa, NJ, rolled to a NJ MOC championship in the 1600 with a PR of 4:07.89. Jim also boasts a 9:00.36 for the Two Mile run.
The Girls Milers
Cory McGee, MS, ran a 4:46.63 mile this year at the NIN meet for runner up honors. She has also gone 4:50.50 for 1600 meters outdoors at the MS state meet along with a 2:10.60 800. Cory has also won the Milrose Mile indoors with an impressive Garden time of 4:52.77. Won 3 titles at State.
Eleanor Fulton, CO, ran a 4:48.10 for 3rd at the NIN Mile. She also has a 2:10.04 800 PR. Won 2 titles at State and 2nd in 800.
Emily Sisson, MO, has a 4:49.18 1600 PR from her sectional meet last spring. This year was an interesting one for Emily. She was 2nd to Megan Goethals at the NIN 2 mile in 10:10.21, and then ran at the World Junior XC Championships. In a telling example of her fitness, Emily ran a rabbited 3200 time trial in 9:51 last week.
Kelsey Margey, NY, has a 2:10.07 800 PR from her runner-up finish at NIN this year. She also has a 4:56.94 PR from the Molloy Stanner Games indoors.
Marielle Hall, NJ, has gone 2:07.33 for 800 meters and 4:48.73 for 1600 meters at her Group Champs meet. Double NSIC champ in Mile and 5000.
Joanna Stevens, VA, has a 4:48.12 PR in the Mile run from the Southern Track Classic. She has also gone 10:12.21 for Two miles at the NIN championships.
Kathleen Stevens, VA, has a 1600 PR of 4:48.45 from the Southern Track Classic. Kathleen has also gone 10:20.74 for Two miles.
Shelby Hayes, FL, has a 4:50.54 1600 to her credit from this spring as well as a 2:11.54 800 PR.
Katie Flood, IA, had an amazing state meet, winning the 3k in 9:27.35, the 1500 in 4:31.33, and the 800 in 2:09.76. She also ran a leg of the winning 4x800.
Ajee Wilson, NJ, has really come on this year, with PR's of 4:43.92 to win her state group meet and a huge 2:04.94 to win the NJ MOC 800.
Alli Billmeyer, CA, won her CA sectional meet with a PR of 4:45.06. She has also blazed to a 2:09.94 800 meter run.
Maddie Meyers, WA, ran a 4:50.72 for One mile to win at Arcadia. She also won her 1A state meet in 4:50.02.
Claudia DiSomma, NJ, ran a 4:45.57 at her state group meet and got 2nd! That's what happens when Ajee Wilson is in the same group. She doubled in the 800 and got 3rd in 2:09.37. Claudia won the NJ MOC 1600 in 4:48.26.