You're a high school track fan and you're with a few of your friends who also like to spend Saturdays watching a good invitational.
Then the discussion turns to a simple question: Which record is untouchable? You know, what they once said about the 4-minute barrier before Roger Bannister or Bob Beamon's 1968 world record in the long jump.
The old adage, "records are made to be broken," is very true. But there are some that are a little more vulnerable than others. In developing events like the girls pole vault or the boys discus, every few years there are newcomers who place their names atop the list knowing full well it won't last forever.
How about the Top 10 most difficult? It's just an opinion, but here goes:1. Boys shot put (81-3½, Michael Carter, Dallas Jefferson, Texas, 1979)
If you were in Sacramento, Calif., when Carter unleashed that toss, your first thought was pretty simple — would the 12-pound shot land on the track? It was that monstrous of a throw. Carter, who would go on to win a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics before embarking on an eight-year career in the National Football League, has nine of the Top 10 throws ever. Only Fallbrook (Calif.) thrower Brent Noon, who hit 76-2 in 1990, breaks up Carter's dominance. Noon was a superb shot-putter but physically, he was no match for the athletic, taller, stronger Carter.
2. Boys mile (3:53.43, Alan Webb, Reston South Lakes, Va., 2001)
Has it really been 10 years since Webb set that record? The mark he broke, Jim Ryun's 3:55.3, merely lasted 36 years. In the history of high school sports, only four runners have eclipsed the magical barrier. It takes someone very special and the kind of runners with great endurance and 1:50 half-mile speed don't just drop in every week. One other reason this one will last is the event is just not run very often, while back in Ryun's day it was part of every dual meet and invitational.3. Girls 200 (22.11, Allyson Felix, North Hills Los Angeles Baptist, 2003)
This mark was set in the high altitude of Mexico City and unlike the first two, is a little more vulnerable as each one after this will become. Felix has the top three performances, the other two at sea level, before Marion Jones' name appears at 22.58. Felix and Jones were frighteningly fast, so it's hard to imagine someone stepping up into that company. Last year's national leader, Ashton Purvis of St. Elizabeth (Oakland, Calif.)
roared to a 22.90, which only got her tied for the No. 10 best individual all-time. 4. Boys 400 (44.69, Darrell Robinson, Tacoma Wilson, Wash., 1982)
Robinson remains the only high school runner to crack the 45-second barrier as the record approaches its 30th year. Power and speed are a tough combination in an event that many believe is the most physically demanding in a short space of time. For the really good ones like Robinson and Jerome Young (45.01 in 1995), it was simply an all-out sprint. There were those who thought Pasadena Muir's Obea Moore (45.15 as a sophomore in 1995) might put this out of reach, but pushing one's body that hard in high school often results in physical breakdowns.5. Boys 4x100 Relay (39.76, Fort Worth Wyatt, Texas, 1998)
Led by DeMario Wesley (10.23 for the 100), the Chaparrals recorded the four fastest times ever and five of the top six, all less than 40 seconds, in 1998. The only other school to crack 40 was Houston Forest Brook in 2001. Lots of others have had great anchors but to have four runners that not only can blaze, but can handle the stick, is an extremely tough challenge. If there were a national meet, there might be a chance for some of the truly great relay teams to actually collide more than once or twice a year.6. Boys Long Jump (26-10, Marquise Goodwin, Rowlett, Texas, 2009)
This is an event that has a history of producing some pretty long-lasting records and when Goodwin broke the mark in 2009 it had been two decades since Dion Bentley went 26-9 3/4. Just a hunch that it might be a long time before anyone edges ever closer to that inevitable 27-footer. Oh yes, some of those are pretty good jumpers. Start and finish with the record Bentley broke, the 26-8 ¼ by Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis of New Jersey who set his mark in 1979. Then again, some guy with 10.2 speed, thin but agile with kangaroo legs could step up and put 27 in the books.7. Girls 800 (2:00.07, Kim Gallagher, Fort Wash. Upper Dublin, Pa., 1982)
Yes, 1982, almost 30 years ago. Kim Gallagher and Mary Decker (later Mary Decker-Slaney) had some sensational battles starting as age group runners so they toughened each other up until both were among the best in the nation by the time they were seniors. Not the best high school runners, the best period. Gallagher would go on to a successful running career but now it would take a sub-2-minute run to break her standard and that doesn't seem to be possible. Heck, America's best collegiate runners aren't threatening 2:00.8. Girls 3,200 (9:48.59, Kim Mortensen, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 1996)
Today's 3,200-meter runners take a look at that record and just shake their heads. Many of them tangled with Jordan Hasay (now at Oregon) over the past couple of years and can't imagine anyone running four seconds faster than the San Luis Obispo, Calif. runner. Yet that's just what the smooth-running Mortensen did, throwing a 9:52.80 in for good measure. Yes, Foot Locker National and U.S.A. National Junior champion Aisling Cuffe ran 9:59.00 last year and could enter that magical area this spring, but where would she get that kind of competition to trim 11 full seconds?9. Boys 200 (20.13, Roy Martin, Roosevelt, Texas, 1985)
Only one runner from the 21st century, J-Mee Samuels of North Carolina, who clocked a 20.32 at altitude in 2005, can crack the Top 10 marks. Martin was no one-time wonder, posting backup times of another 20.13, 20.28 and 20.30. He wasn't the only one that year, either, as Joe DeLoach of Texas ran 20.24. Here is the rub — for records like this, competition is vital, but it'll happen some day.
10. Girls 4x400 Relay (3:35.49, Poly, Long Beach, Calif., 2004)
Shalonda Solomon led this quartet that averaged 53.8. Solomon ran the 200 in 22.82. Seniors DaShanta Harris and Jasmine Lee were joined by sophomore Shana Woods to make up the foursome that needed to run that fast in the California State Championships to beat a pretty fair quartet from Union City James Logan that went 3:37.85, which is also on the all-time Top 25 list. Hard to get four girls running fast enough to step down that mark.
So, get a group together and come up with your toughest records. That's half the fun of listing and breaking them.