Despite rain and wind, Illinois superstar Lukas Verzbicas became only the fifth high school athlete to run a sub four-minute mile - in a sizzling 3 minutes, 59.71 seconds - Saturday while winning the annual Jim Ryun High School Dream Mile at Icahn Stadium in New York City.
Verzbicas also won the event last year in 4:04.38.
The recent graduate of Sandburg (Orland Park, Ill.)
, who holds the national two-mile record and has won numerous national events, told MaxPreps, "It was my biggest accomplishment of all. It just means so much to join such a list of elite athletes."
Others who have cracked the magic barrier include Jim Ryun, the first in 1964, Tim Danielson (1966), Marty Liquori (1967) and Alan Webb (2001), who holds the current record of 3:53.43.
Jim Ryun told MaxPreps that Verzbicas is only the second runner to break four minutes during a race that included only high school athletes.
"I'm excited and thrilled for him," Ryun said of Verzbicas. "This was taking the high school mile to a new level. (A time of) 4:11 was 12th. Fourth place was a sophomore (Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict's in Newark, N.J.) in 4:03.29, which was a national sophomore record. The depth of the field was great."
Verzbicas predicted that Cheserek has the best shot at becoming the next sub four-minute miler, because he is a native of Kenya and has the genetics of a great distance runner.
Ryun, who is pleased to help promote the adidas-sponsored event, believes it is moving in the right direction, because his intention is to revive interest in the mile – once, perhaps track's most glamorous event – and try to produce more sub four-minute performers every year.
Halfway through the race, Verzbicas said he didn't think he could break the coveted barrier, but he poured out every ounce of strength he had left over the last 880 yards, which he ran in a personal-record 1:57.
"It was definitely the hardest finish I've ever had," he admitted. "I didn't know I was going to break four until the last 50 yards. I was lucky to hold off the others."
Right behind him were seniors Austin Mudd (Center Grove-Greenwood, Ind.)
, 4:01.83; and Elias Gedyon (Loyola-Los Angeles)
, 4:02.08. Their clockings were No. 11 and 14, respectively, all-time.
Though he faded to fifth in 4:06.51, Trabuco Hills (Mission Viejo, Calif.)
senior Jantzen Oshier led much of the race, forcing Verzbicas to turn on the jets down the home stretch.
When Ryun congratulated Verzbicas, he told him to concentrate on his future, specifically focusing on speed work. He will run only triathlons this summer while preparing to attend the University of Oregon in the fall.
"It was the best way to end a track career," Verzbicas said. "My only goal (hope) is that I have inspired them (future prep runners) to do greater things than what I have done."
Ryun also was proud of the girls champion, Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood, Calif.)
junior Cami Chapus, who was timed in 4:42.71, which is the best in the country this year. She attended his running camp four years ago.
A Dream 100-meter dash was added this year. The boys title went to Boone (Orlando, Fla.)
junior Marvin Bracy in 10.47, while the girls title was captured by Lake Wales (Fla.)
senior Octavious Freeman in 11.78.