Alan Webb, 18, Becomes First Prep Since 1967 to Break 4 Minutes in Mile
By David Monti
(c) 2001 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
NEW YORK - Alan Webb, an 18-year-old senior at South South Lakes High School in Reston, Va., became the first U.S. prep athlete to run under four minutes for the Mile indoors at today's New Balance Games at the Armory Track & Field Center. Moreover, he became the first U.S. high schooler to break four minutes since Marty Liquori did it outdoors in 1967.
"I wanted to win but I didn't want to get ahead of myself," said an excited Webb who ran 3:59.86. "I wanted to go sub-4:00, but if I missed by a little I'd still get the national record."
The previous indoor national high school record was 4:02.7 by Thom Hunt in 1976.
To help him achieve a faster time, Webb entered the elite Invitational Mile instead of the high school race. The meet organizers gave him the option to enter either race, but kept their plans secret to reduce pressure on the athlete.
"I could back out at any time," said Webb who finished third against 11 older and more experienced runners. "There was no pressure."
The race was won by 24-year-old Leonard Mucheru, a Kenyan representing New Balance. Running in his first ever indoor Mile, he won easily in 3:57.90. Mucheru, a Kalingen, is one of ten children and the only one in his family to take up running. American Matt Holthaus, the 1999 U.S. indoor champion at the Mile, was second in 3:59.74. He just got by Webb in the final sprint for the finish.
Webb ran behind pacemaker, Lorris Adams of Barbados, and Mucheru for the first half of the race. Mucheru was in control by the fifth of eight laps, and Webb was running alone behind him, looking strong.
"The plan was to go with the rabbit through 800 meters," said Webb. "I wanted to stay conservative. With two laps to go I tried to make a move," he continued, adding that he was beginning to tie-up, "but I put it all together with my kick."
Amy Rudolph of Providence, R.I. won the women's Invitational Mile by a wide margin in 4:28.47, a personal best. She became the fourth-fastest American of all-time over the Mile distance indoors.
"I think it's a really good starting point, and I'm really pleased with it," said Rudolph, a 2000 Olympian at 5000m. "I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the year. I'm completely healthy [and] I'm focused."